Most heart attacks and strokes are preventable, yet more people in New Zealand die from cardiovascular disease, heart disease and strokes than from any other cause.
One of the top health concerns for doctors is cardio or heart health.
- Heart attacks
- Transient ischaemic attacks (mini strokes0
- Peripheral vascular disease (poor blood circulation to the legs)
are all forms of cardiovascular disease.
Many heart attacks and strokes can be avoided. With the right information and action, you can make the choice to live a long and healthy life. By knowing your risks of developing cardiovascular disease, you can make important changes that will improve your heart health and reduce your chances of having a heart attack or stroke.
Your doctor, nurse or health professional at McLaren Health clinic can test you to check for heart problems and assess your risk factors for a heart attack or stroke.
A heart health check (or cardiovascular risk assessment) will give you information on how to reduce your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Cardio or heart health testing usually involves taking your blood pressure, weight, height, girth measurement and then blood tests for cholesterol and diabetes. Our medical staff will take you through four easy steps:
1. Risk assessment – Work out your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Your doctor or nurse will ask about your risk factors like smoking, exercise and what you eat. They will ask if there is any family history of heart attack or stroke. They will measure your blood pressure, height, weight and waist and test your blood for levels of cholesterol, and sugar (diabetes screening). They can also give you and ECG. An ECG is a recording of your heart’s electrical activity. Electrode patches are attached to your skin to measure the electrical impulses given off by your heart. The result is a trace that can be read by a doctor. It can give information of previous heart attacks or problems with the heart rhythm.
2. Make a plan – So how can we help you to reduce your risk? Our staff will suggest the best ways for you to improve your health. Our staff will work with you to plan your goals and changes in your life and encourage you to have a long, productive, healthy life. They can refer you for expert dietary and exercise advice, and can put in place a “stop smoking” programme for you.
3. Options – Our staff will investigate various ways to work on your risk factors, including lifestyle changes and drug therapy. Our doctors and nurses are trained to advise you on any medications that might be used to reduce your blood pressure or cholesterol or if you have diabetes.
4. Checkups – We will get you to come into the medical clinic regular free checkups so we can help you plot your progress over time.
If you know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, you can get quick treatment which is very important. The symptoms are:
- chest pain
- chest tightness or chest pressure
- pain in one or both arms
- pain in the neck or jaw
- shortness of breath
If you experience these symptoms, or are present when someone else does, you should call 111 immediately.
There are very good reasons for assessing your cardiovascular risk. We think that if you have any of the following risk factors you should call or email us for an appointment. The most common risk factors are:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poor diet and obesity
- A strong family history of heart problems.
We will then put a plan in place to work with you reduce your chances of a heart attack. Our staff at McLaren health are trained to help you with heart problems.