After a certain age, visiting a cardiologist every year is advised, even if you don’t have any symptoms. Regular checkups can help you determine if you have heart problems early, substantially prolonging your life.
Men should usually start these regular visits around the age of 40 to 45, and women, in general, can wait 10 more years. Keep in mind that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. So, it is not wise to ignore this advice. If your physician tells you that you need to see a cardiologist, you better listen to him.
But even if you go and see a doctor, there are some things that cardiologists won’t say to their patients. They might overlook them and think that you already know about these things. It is better to stay informed, and that’s why you should know the following facts about the health of your heart.
Read on to find out the things that your cardiologist won’t tell you.
1. Stop smoking immediately
Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve begun smoking. You started when you were young, and now it is a part of your everyday life. When you go out to do groceries, you never forget to buy a pack of cigarettes.
But did you know that smoking is one of the major causes of cardiovascular disease? It causes 1 out of 3 deaths from CVD. More than 480,000 Americans die every year from smoking-related cardiovascular disease.
Even if you’ve been smoking for decades, it is never too late to give up. Let’s say that you are quitting smoking in your 70s. It doesn’t matter. You can still significantly increase your chances of living a healthier and longer life.
2. Are you taking any supplements? They might be ineffective
As you already know, if you go to see a doctor, no matter if they are a cardiologist or your primary care physician, you will be prescribed some supplements. This is a rule already.
They insist that you should buy them because they are very good for your health. And many times, these supplements that they strongly recommend are also sold in their offices.
Indeed, some supplements are recommended, and you should take them, but on the other hand, many others are ineffective. The best approach is to get all the nutrients you need from food. That’s why a healthy and balanced diet is so important.
Now, two of the most important supplements that you should take and that are actually beneficial for you are fish oil and vitamin D. More than 80% of Americans are vitamin D deficient.
3. Do you really need that stress test?
A stress test, also called a stress exercise test, shows how your heart is working during physical exercise. During physical activity, the heart pumps blood harder and faster. This test can help your cardiologist find out if there are any problems with the blood flow within the heart.
During a stress test, you will need to walk on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike. The cardiologist will examine your blood pressure, heart rhythm, and breathing. If you are not able to exercise, you will take some special medicine that mimics the effects of exercise.
But, do you really need this stress test? Most people will start doing them every year after the age of 50. But you should be aware of one thing that your cardiologist is not telling you: this test can only detect blockages of 70% or more.
If you don’t have any symptoms like chest pain, an abnormal EKG, or shortness of breath, there is a chance that you don’t need to undergo a stress test every year.
4. Yes, prescriptions are good, but are they the best solution?
Usually, heart diseases are caused by psychological factors such as age, genetic predisposition, smoking, etc. If you go to a cardiologist with various symptoms that indicate a heart disorder, they will try to find out what’s wrong, and if that’s the case, they will give you a prescription.
And don’t get us wrong; if your cardiologist gives you a prescription, you’d better take it. But you should also be aware that there are some causes of heart disease that your cardiologist might ignore.
If you are stressed, depressed, or anxious, these conditions can somatize, and this could lead to many other health problems. Somatization is the connection between mind and body. When your mind is not working properly, various health problems might arise, including heart disease.
5. Is red wine a cure for everything?
You’ve probably heard that a glass of red wine per day is good for your health, but is this true? Red wine can prevent coronary artery disease because it has antioxidants and is okay to drink in moderation. But drinking wine every day is not recommended, even more so if you have any heart problems.
Alcohol can be addictive, and you should be careful not to overdo it. The consumption of too much alcohol can lead to a lot of health problems. The American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute do not encourage starting to drink alcohol to prevent heart disease.
6. Fat is not good, but sugar is the real problem
Unlike sugar, fat has a minimal direct influence on blood glucose levels. Also, sugar is high in calories but has no nutrients. This is called “empty calories”. Sugar also quickly raises blood glucose levels, which is another reason we should avoid it.
Sometimes, when we want to have a snack in the middle of the day, we immediately think of something sweet, such as biscuits or cookies. But this is not healthy, and you should reduce your sugar intake as much as you can.
If you usually consume more calories than you need, you will gain weight, and obesity is a predictor of heart problems. Eating fat in moderation is okay and will not affect your health negatively.
So, if you eat sugar, tell your cardiologist beforehand in case they don’t ask you. Besides checking the cholesterol levels at the next blood test, it is recommended to also check the insulin and A1C levels since diabetes is closely related to heart problems.
7. How was your pregnancy?
Preeclampsia is a condition that affects blood pressure and can appear after the 20th week of pregnancy. Also, it can appear after giving birth, in which case it is called postpartum preeclampsia. Having high blood pressure puts a strain on your heart and can cause further problems.
If you suffered from preeclampsia during your pregnancy or after giving birth, this can be an early sign of heart disease. So keep in mind that it is important to inform your cardiologist if you have this condition.
It is okay to tell them yourself because most doctors won’t ask a 55-year-old woman about the pregnancy she had 25 years ago. The same goes for other conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. A heart attack is the leading cause of death for people who suffer from these conditions. So, if you feel that you have something to tell your cardiologist about your health, don’t wait to tell them.
If you want to find out more about your heart, the next book might be a good start: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Heart Disease
You should also read: Feeling Frequent Hand Pain? Here Are 5 Possible Reasons for It