Heart Health Guide

These routine screenings for heart disease should not take a backseat

Routine screenings for heart disease are still an important part of staying healthy.

Beaumont Hospital
Dr. Sanjeev Aggarwal, chief of cardiovascular surgery at Beaumont Health.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in unexpected ways, from how people work to how they socialize. It has impacted nearly every facet of daily life and claimed more than 400,000 American lives. However, this widespread disruption has also had another worrying side effect.

“As a physician, I am particularly troubled by the stories I have heard about people foregoing routine health screenings and ignoring potentially serious or even life-threatening symptoms to avoid going to the emergency center,” said Dr. Sanjeev Aggarwal, chief of cardiovascular surgery at Beaumont Health. “While COVID-19 has disrupted many aspects of our lives, it hasn’t slowed down conditions like heart disease.”

Heart health is still a top priority

At Beaumont, the heart and vascular team is still providing the most advanced treatment options in a safe environment. They regularly perform minimally invasive heart surgery and advanced, catheter-based procedures to treat complex conditions, such as heart valve disease, congenital heart disease, aortic aneurysms and heart rhythm disorders.

“Our highly-skilled, multidisciplinary teams have access to the latest medical innovations and expertise,” said Aggarwal. “However, it’s also important to identify conditions before they become too serious. Don’t delay getting the care you may need.”

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite this fact, many people ignore the signs and symptoms of heart disease and avoid taking preventative steps that could improve their conditions or outcomes

“I urge you to pay attention to your body and make routine health screenings and checkups a priority,” said Aggarwal. “They could save your life.”

Staying on top of your health

If you can’t remember when you had your last physical exam, make an appointment to see your doctor. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can be silently putting you at risk for heart disease, explained Aggarwal. Routine tests for cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar can also help identify heart health issues and allow for early treatment.

Chest pain, abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, nausea, indigestion or other unusual symptoms may be signals to contact your doctor or seek emergency care in some cases.

Responding to symptoms is important, but taking preventative steps in your everyday routine is another way to support wellbeing. “No matter how old you are, you can do something to help improve your health, such as following a heart-healthy diet, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking,” said Aggarwal. “You can never start too early.”

Addressing your emotional needs

The pandemic has also had a profound impact on mental health. “This is a very stressful and unprecedented time for all of us,” said Aggarwal. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re feeling sad, hopeless or experiencing changes in the way you eat or sleep, talk to your doctor.”

Many treatment options can help you feel better –– whether it’s assessing anxiety or determining your heart disease risk factors with a medical professional. You don’t need to struggle on your own.

“Prevention is the key,” said Aggarwal. “Lifestyle changes and medications can reduce your odds of a cardiovascular event.” When you meet with your doctor, discuss your family history, ask about prevention strategies and follow up on a regular basis.

Taking care of your mind and body should still be at the top of your to-do list.

To learn more about heart health, take Beaumont’s free heart risk assessment quiz at.

https://www.beaumont.org/heart-quiz.

Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.
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