Cardiologists can detect the earliest signs of heart disease, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels. Cardiologists can help patients change their lives before full-blown heart disease develops, but many people don't seek treatment until they suffer permanent damage.
When should patients see cardiologists? Risk factors for heart disease include poor diet, diabetes, inactivity, stress, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and heredity. People with any of these risk factors should speak to a cardiologist, because early treatment can prevent future problems. Patients experiencing cardiovascular symptoms, like dizziness, strange pains in areas adjacent to the chest, chest pain or shortness of breath should dial 9-1-1 immediately.
Smoking, a high-risk behavior, makes patients two to four times more likely to develop heart disease. Other contributors, like physical inactivity and obesity, can be addressed through lifestyle and diet changes, while high blood pressure can be treated by your doctor.
The American College of Cardiology (ACC), a nonprofit organization that advocates for quality cardiovascular care, tells people to practice prevention every day.
To help heart patients, the ACC created an innovative Web site, www.CardioSmart.org. The site doesn't just offer advice for Americans struggling with heart disease, but also teaches patients to evaluate their risk and preserve or improve their heart health.
Users can speak with cardiologists via an interactive forum, connect with heart disease patients and see the latest research regarding specific conditions.
The ACC has also recently published a book, Slay the Giant, that explains how to prevent heart disease in an engaging, easy-to-read manner. "CardioSmart and Slay the Giant offer explanations for just about everything needed to understand heart health and heart disease," says Dr. Alfred A. Bove, M.D., F.A.C.C., the President-Elect for the ACC, "With a strong emphasis on prevention of coronary disease and poignant directives on how to reduce heart disease risk, these are priceless tools for everyone who wants to avoid the ravages of coronary disease."
To learn more about heart disease prevention or the book "Slay the Giant," go to www.CardioSmart.org.