Keep your heart in check

191,000 people in the UK die from heart and circulatory diseases each year reports the British Heart Foundation.

Advances in cardiac technology now mean that a range of diagnostic tools are available for checking the heart. Spire Fylde Coast Consultant Cardiologist, Dr Anoop Chauhan answers some common questions:

Q. What symptoms should I look out for?

A. It would be sensible to visit your GP if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
• Chest pain • Chest tightness or an uncomfortable feeling in the chest on exertion • Left arm or jaw discomfort on exertion
• Palpitations • Unusual shortness of breath • Dizziness
• Extreme tiredness
These symptoms could be caused by a number of conditions and do not necessarily mean you have heart disease – but they should be checked.

Q. I am worried about my heart, how do I arrange see a Consultant Cardiologist?

A. Patients should always go and see their GP first for an assessment. The GP will advise if you need to see a Consultant Cardiologist. In most cases, the GP will take in to account risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking status and family history of heart disease. If the GP feels that further diagnostic tests are recommended then in most cases they will refer you to a Consultant Cardiologist.

Q. My GP suggested I may need to have a CT scan, what is this?

A. CT Scanning of the heart is a non-invasive diagnostic test which provides information about your arteries. It can also be used to measure your Calcium Score which gives an idea of the risk of developing angina or having a heart attack. Previously an invasive procedure called an angiogram may have been performed, but now nearly 50% of my patients who are at low risk could have a diagnostic CT scan. The advantage is that this is a non-invasive test with a much lower risk than a conventional angiogram and it only takes 15 minutes to perform.

Prevention is better than cure?

There are of course many ways that you can help to keep your heart healthy. We do have to keep repeating the same messages so that we all play a part in our own health care. Here are just a few as a reminder:
• Stop smoking • Regular exercise • Keep cholesterol low • Annual blood pressure check

Dr Anoop Chauhan
Spire Fylde Coast Hospital