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Why Is Cardiovascular (Heart) Risk Screening Important? The rationale for an active approach to the prevention of cardiovascular diseases is firmly based on five observations (modified from European Guidelines on CVD Prevention in Clinical Practice, 2003, 2007): 1. CVD is the major cause of premature death in most developed countries worldwide. It is an important source of disability and continues to escalate healthcare cost. 2. The underlying cause in atherosclerosis (cholesterol deposition in the arteries that supply the heart and brain) which develops insidiously over many years and is usually advanced by the time symptoms occur. 3. Heart attack, stroke and death frequently occur suddenly without warning and before medical care is available and many advanced therapeutic interventions are therefore not applicable or at best palliative. 4. CVD relates strongly to lifestyle and modifiable risk factors. Cardiovascular disease begins with lifestyle factors such as smoking, physical inactivity and unhealthy diet. With these factors, the heart and blood vessels supplying the major body organs and limbs are damaged and one develops high-risk disease such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high lipid levels and obesity. Left unchecked, these high-risk diseases result in severe damage to the heart and various organs over time and eventually, will result in death. 5. Cardiovascular risk factor modifications have been unquestionably shown to reduce death and adverse outcomes especially in people with either unrecognised or recognised CVD.

Cardiovascular screening identifies those at risk of future cardiovascular events of the heart and other major body organs. The risk factors are divided into modifiable and on modifiable ones. Modifiable risk factors are reversible and if one takes steps to change the lifestyle or receive medical treatment, one would be at reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In addition, there are screening tests such as blood tests, ECG, stress treadmill test and 2D Echo which can help doctors evaluate your risk factors for cardiovascular disease.


Who Should Undergo Cardiovascular Risk Screening? 1. Upon the patient’s request 2. If during a consultation, the following are detected: •

Obesity especially abdominal (increased waist circumference)

High blood pressure

High cholesterol

Raised blood sugar levels

A middle-aged smoker

3.

4.

Family history of: •

Premature death (sudden and unexpected or otherwise) before age 50 years due to heart attack

Premature heart disease detected before age 50 years

Major risk factors such as high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes Upon the patient’s request 1. Chest pain/discomforts 2. Excessive exertional/unexplained breathlessness and fatigue associated with exercise 3. Unexplained fainting or near-fainting episodes 4. Swelling of legs

5.

Medical history of 1. Previous heart attack 2. Established coronary artery disease

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Why Is Cardiovascular (Heart) Risk Screening Important