There are many ways to assess heart health and these are some of the screening options available here. A doctor can advise you on which you should have.
A thorough physical examination of the heart and lungs. For example, a doctor will listen for abnormal timing of heartbeats, which may indicate problems with the heart valves.
Blood is tested for cholesterol levels, as well as for signs of diabetes, kidney and liver problems. High levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol can spell danger.
Meanwhile, the presence of diabetes and diseases of the kidney or liver can indicate heart disease risk as well.More comprehensive screening packages may also test blood for signs of thyroid disorders and for biomarker C-reactive protein as they are also linked to heart disease.
This charts the electrical activity of the heart in order to reveal abnormal heart function. During each heartbeat, the heart releases tiny amounts of electrical charges that enable heart muscles to contract. Hence, unusual electrical activity may suggest that the heart is not functioning optimally.
Treadmill stress test
This test serves to detect coronary disease by evaluating how well the heart responds to exercise.
Medical staff will first record the patient’s blood pressure and then take an ECG of the heart at rest.Following that, the patient will be asked to walk on the treadmill at gradually increasing speeds. Blood pressure and ECG will be recorded at regular intervals during the activity and the results are compiled for the doctor to analyse.
This produces an image of the heart, lungs and chest bones. This allows doctors to examine heart structure and size. For example, the X-ray may show an enlarged heart.
Cardiac computed tomography (CT) scan
Several types of CT scans can be used for heart screening.
The most common is the calcium-score cardiac CT. This test looks for calcium deposits in the arteries. Such deposits are a strong indicator of coronary disease. Based on the amount of deposits, a score will be generated to illustrate the severity of the disease.
Heart disease can stem from factors ranging from genetic disposition to lifestyle habits like smoking as well as chronic diseases like diabetes.
"If you are above 35 years old and have some of the following risk factors, do consider having a heart screening", said Dr Felix Keng, senior consultant cardiologist at National Heart Centre.
■ Family history of heart disease
■ Cigarette smoking
■ High cholesterol/Hypertension
■ High blood pressure
■ Chronic stress
■ Rarely exercise
■ Regular alcohol consumption