Heart disease is an umbrella term used to describe diseases that affect the heart, including blood vessel diseases, heart arrhythmias and congenital heart defects. Heart disease can often lead to serious complications, like heart attack or stroke.
Diagnosing and preventing heart disease in Middle Tennessee
Heart disease is serious, but we are here to guide your journey to better health.
Unlike some heart conditions, heart disease is preventable and treatable. If you are experiencing the symptoms of heart disease, our Nashville experts provide an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan.
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Types of heart disease
Heart disease cases can run the gamut from easily treatable to highly complex. We make sure to craft treatment plans centered around your unique heart disease condition, such as:
- Congenital heart abnormalities
- Coronary artery disease (CAD)
- Heart arrhythmia
- Heart attack
- Heart infections
- Heart valve diseases
Leading risk factors for heart disease
It is important to understand what causes heart disease. It has many risk factors you are not able to control, such as race, gender and age. However, there are many more that you can manage. We are here to help you keep your chances of developing heart disease to a minimum.
How is heart disease diagnosed
Family history is the first area cardiologists will look into when there is a potential heart disease diagnosis. After learning that information, there are numerous heart screening and imaging tests we may run to gain a proper diagnosis, including cardiac catheterization, computerized tomography (CT) scan, echocardiogram, electrocardiogram (ECG), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound and blood tests for cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol and blood pressure
When not controlled, high blood pressure can cause heart attacks. This is because the heart has to work harder to pump blood, causing stress on the blood vessels and an increased risk of damage. High blood pressure is often caused by family history, aging, plaque buildup, structural damage to blood vessels or medication.
High cholesterol levels can vary depending on other risk factors, as different types of cholesterol and fats have different effects. The most commonly known types of cholesterol are:
- High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol — HDL cholesterol is the "good" cholesterol, as it is believed to remove cholesterol from the blood. High levels of HDL in your blood may help reduce your risk of coronary artery disease. A low level can increase your risk of heart disease.
- Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol — LDL cholesterol is the "bad" cholesterol. Excess LDL builds up on your arteries and leads to heart disease. The higher the level of LDL, the higher your risk for heart disease.
- Triglycerides — Triglycerides are another type of fat in your bloodstream. If you have high blood triglyceride levels, you may also have a high LDL, which further increases your risk of heart disease.
For both high blood pressure and high cholesterol, healthy diet and exercise habits can be sufficient for lowering the numbers. But in some cases, these lifestyle changes must be combined by medication. Our heart care team works collaboratively to create a custom plan to keep your heart healthy.
Diabetes and heart disease
What many do not realize is that there is a strong connection between diabetes and heart disease. According to Johns Hopkins, diabetes can make you two to four times more likely for developing heart disease. In fact, the majority of those with Type 2 diabetes end up developing heart disease as well. If you have diabetes and are concerned about your risk of developing heart disease, speak with your doctor as soon as possible. We are here to answer any questions you may have and aid in developing a lifestyle plan that can help you effectively manage diabetes, while also preventing heart disease.
How to prevent heart disease
According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing one out of every four deaths per year. We understand how daunting that may sound, but unlike some heart conditions, we want you to know that heart disease is preventable. While you may not be able to control certain risk factors, there are many ways you can lower your heart disease risk, including regular exercise, eating a heart-healthy diet, limiting alcohol, getting quality rest and not smoking.