Tests to keep a keen track of your heart health
Regular testing helps us to know how well or poorly the heart is functioning. Here are some heart related laboratory tests recommended by doctors that are commonly performed to keep a track on the heart health
Heart is one of the vital organs of the body and optimal heart health is important for ensuring overall health as the current fast, stressful life along with lifestyle factors often takes a toll on the heart health. There are various predisposing factors to heart disorders like age, high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, family history etc. and monitoring these parameters by regular testing helps us to know how well or poorly the heart is functioning.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Shibani Ramchandran, Consultant, Medical Affairs at Metropolis Healthcare Limited, listed some heart related laboratory tests that are commonly performed to keep a track on the heart health:
1. Lipid profile tests - These tests measure the levels of individual cholesterol and triglycerides in the body which being fatty substances, when deposited in excess can block the blood supply to the heart. This may lead to high blood pressure, heart disorders or even heart attacks.
2. Cardiac risk and cardiac screen tests - In those having a family history of heart diseases or having risk factors like diabetes, obesity, hypertension; regular screening of blood, urine, sugar levels along with certain specific parameters may help in the diagnosis or prevention of heart ailments. It helps to understand how well your heart is functioning.
3. True Health Heart - The tests included in this, as the name suggests, give a picture about your heart health by measuring the basic as well as heart specific parameters. Based on the results, further testing or treatment can be decided.
4. Tests for Diabetes and Obesity - In patients with Type 2 diabetes or diabetes mellitus, high blood sugar levels if left untreated may affect the heart. Hence, regular checking of blood sugar levels is very important. Overweight and obesity also lead to heart diseases. Testing for obesity and the factors involved is now possible with various tests available.
Testing for heart functions and associated conditions should be highly stressed upon to maintain a healthy heart and happy life. Dr Preeti Goyal, Medical Director of vHealth by Aetna, shared, “With increase in the incident of sudden cardiac arrest, the need to monitor and improve heart health is at the forefront of health related discussions. After an assessment of the heart disease risk factors, certain screening tests can be done to objectively measure the individual’s risk of having a heart related event in near future.”
She echoed, “Cholesterol test or lipid profile consists of measurement of Total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and Triglycerides along with other parameters in the blood. This gives an indication of the fat circulating in the blood and determines the chances of developing atherosclerosis which is a major factor in the causation of heart attacks. High-sensitivity C -reactive protein, Brain Natriuretic Peptide (BNP), Lipoprotein (a), Troponin T and plasma ceramides are other chemicals, blood levels of which when interpreted along with risk factors help to alert the clinician.”
Highlighting that ECG as a screening tool for low to moderate risk individuals is not considered to be useful, she said, “Stress test or tread mill test which measures the heart’s ability to withstand physiological stress gives much better indication of cardiac fitness. Another useful test is the Heart scan or Coronary Calcium scan which determines the extent and size of plaques in the blood vessels of the heart which can lead to stoppage of blood flow to certain sections of the heart muscle. Depending on the results of these tests, timely interventions can be made to prevent or delay the occurrence of a cardiac event.”
Adding to the list of tests to keep a keen track of your heart health, Dr Abhinit Gupta, Intervention Cardiologist at Regency Hospital, recommended:
1. Blood tests - Your body sends chemicals into your blood when your muscle is harmed, like in a heart attack. The compounds can be measured through blood testing to determine whether and how much of your heart muscle has been damaged. Other chemicals in your blood, such as blood fats (including cholesterol and triglycerides), vitamins, and minerals are also measured by blood testing. A vein in your arm is used to draw a sample of your blood. Once it has been examined by a lab, your doctor will receive the results and explain them to you.
2. Electrocardiogram (ECG) - Your heart's electrical impulses are read by an ECG. It reveals how efficiently your heart is pumping. On your chest, arms, and legs, little sticky spots and wire leads are applied. The leads are connected to an ECG machine, which records and prints out the electrical impulses on paper. An ECG may be used by your doctor to identify a heart attack or irregular heartbeats (also known as "arrhythmias").
3. Exercise stress test - An ECG examination known as a stress test, also referred to as a treadmill or exercise test, is carried out while you are working out. Your doctor can assess how well your heart functions during physical activity.
4. Echocardiogram (ultrasound) - A common test is an echocardiography. Using ultrasound, a sort of X-ray, it provides a picture of your heart. It inserts a probe into your oesophagus or onto your chest (throat). It enables your doctor to examine your heart's chambers and valves for any issues and to assess how well your heart pumps blood.
5. Nuclear cardiac stress test - This procedure is also known as a "exercise nuclear scan," a "dual isotope treadmill," or a "exercise thallium scan." Your blood is given a radioactive injection known as a "tracer." It releases energy and moves to your heart. This energy is captured by specialised cameras that are located outside of your body. Your doctor uses this picture to see how much blood flows to your heart muscle and how well your heart pumps blood when you are resting and doing physical activity. This test also helps your doctor to see if your heart muscle is damaged.
6. Coronary angiogram - After a heart attack or angina, a coronary angiography, also known as a "cardiac catheterization," may be performed. An artery in your groin, arm, or wrist is inserted using a catheter, a tiny tube. Your heart is reached once the catheter has been advanced up inside the artery. Your coronary arteries receive a specific dye injection, and an X-ray is then obtained. Your coronary arteries are obstructed or congested in specific locations, which the X-ray reveals to your doctor. It also demonstrates how efficiently your heart is pounding. Your doctor uses coronary angiograms to determine the best course of treatment for you.
7. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - An MRI produces precise digital images of your heart using radio waves and extremely powerful magnets. Your heart can be captured in still or moving photographs. To make certain areas of the heart and coronary arteries easier to visualise, a specific dye may occasionally be applied. Your doctor can determine the best course of therapy for you based on the results of this test, which reveals the anatomy and functionality of your heart.
8. Coronary computed tomography angiogram (CCTA) - It is possible to diagnose coronary artery disease using this specialised sort of computed tomography (CT) scan. For those who may be exhibiting odd cardiac symptoms, it is a non-invasive test.