What is Heart Check Up?
Although it is very dangerous and can cause death, heart disease can be prevented in most people. In order to detect heart disease early, it is recommended to see a doctor immediately if you feel that you are experiencing symptoms.
Heart Check Up Indications
Heart Check Up Warning
- Pregnant women should not undergo a heart examination using X-ray imaging methods, such as CT scans and chest X-rays.
- For patients planning to undergo an MRI examination of the heart, it is required to notify the doctor if there are metal implants in the body.
- There are types of heart tests that use the help of contrast fluid. For patients who have a history of allergies to these fluids, it is recommended to notify the doctor.
- Tell your doctor about what medications you are taking. The doctor may ask the patient to stop taking certain medications before a heart check up.
- Inform your doctor if you have a fear of narrow spaces (claustrophobia). Doctors can give sedatives before a heart check up.
Heart Check Up Preparation
For those of you who are planning to undergo a heart check up, consider the following points so that the examination runs smoothly and gets accurate results;
- Avoid drinking cold water or exercising before undergoing an electrocardiographic examination (EKG), because it can affect the results of the examination.
- Patients planning to undergo a stress test are advised to wear comfortable clothes and shoes.
- In patients who will undergo a CT scan of the heart, should not eat for 4-8 hours before the examination. Patients are still allowed to drink, as long as they are not caffeinated.
- Before undergoing a CT scan, MRI, or chest X-ray, the patient must remove all metal jewelry and accessories.
- Do not smoke for 2 hours before the examination.
Heart Check Up Procedure
To get a diagnosis related to the condition of the heart, the heart doctor can run one or a series of tests. The first step taken by the doctor is to ask about the symptoms experienced by the patient, as well as the patient’s medical history and family. This was asked because heart disease can be related to genetic factors. Then the doctor will examine the patient’s heart, such as heart rate and sound.
After the physical examination is done, the doctor can advise the patient to undergo a blood test, for example checking cholesterol levels and C-reactive protein (CRP). The results of this examination can be used to assess the risk of patients experiencing heart disease. In addition to blood tests, below are other types of follow-up that can be recommended by a doctor.
1. Noninvasive examination
This examination does not require making an incision in the skin to insert a medical device. Some non-invasive tests to check the condition of the heart are:
Electrocardiography (ECG) is a short test to record the electrical activity of the heart using electrodes connected to an ECG machine. This test is performed on patients who show symptoms of chest pain, respiratory distress, fatigue, and heart rhythm disorders. The ECG procedure only lasts about 10 minutes.
Echocardiography is a test that uses sound waves to see the condition of the heart and heart valves. In the image produced by sound waves, can be seen if there are blood clots, fluid in the thin membrane-shaped pouch lining the heart (pericardium), or disruption of the largest arteries (aorta). This test generally takes less than 1 hour.
3. Stress test
Pressure tests are carried out to monitor the heart’s work with ECG or echocardiography while undergoing physical activity or given special drugs, so that the presence or absence of interruption of blood flow to and from the heart is known. In this test, patients are asked to walk on a treadmill or use a static bicycle, beginning with a low speed and then gradually increasing speed.
During the patient’s training, the doctor will monitor the patient’s heart rhythm and blood pressure. The test will be stopped if the patient feels symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, or fatigue.
4. Carotid Doppler ultrasound
This examination is done to determine whether there is a blockage in the carotid arteries, which are located on both sides of the neck. Procedures that use ultrasound media generally last for 10-30 minutes.
5. Holter monitoring
Holter monitoring is a test that monitors and records the electrical activity of the heart for 24 hours, through a small device called a Holter monitor. The Holter Monitor is used by wearing it around the patient’s chest for 1-2 days, while the patient is undergoing normal daily activities.
6. Tilt table test
This examination is carried out to determine the cause of the patient fainting. In this test, the patient is laid on an examination table that will be moved from a sleeping position to an upright or standing position. At the same time, the doctor will check the heart rhythm, blood pressure, and oxygen levels in the body. The results of the examination will help the doctor determine whether the fainting experienced by the patient is caused by heart disease or due to other conditions.
7. Chest radiograph
Chest X-ray is an examination procedure that uses X-ray radiation to produce images of internal organs, tissues, and bones. This procedure is done to see the condition of the heart, airway and lungs, and blood vessels and bones in the chest cavity. This examination lasts about 20 minutes.
8. CT scan of the heart
Heart CT scan is an examination that uses X-ray radiation, to find out some disorders of the heart, such as congenital heart disease, blood clots in the heart, fatty plaque in the coronary arteries, and heart valve abnormalities. This examination takes about 10 minutes.
9. MRI of the heart
MRI of the heart is an examination using magnetic fields and radio waves, to determine the condition of the heart and surrounding blood vessels. This examination can detect heart abnormalities, coronary heart disease, heart failure, heart valve abnormalities, and pericarditis. MRI examination can take 30-90 minutes.
2. Invasive examination
If the results of a physical examination, blood tests, and noninvasive procedures have not provided certainty, the doctor can carry out invasive procedures, such as:
1. Coronary angiography
Coronary angiography or cardiac catheterization is an examination conducted on patients suspected of having coronary heart disease. In this procedure, contrast fluid is injected into a vein through a catheter. Then the doctor will see the blood flow to the heart through X-rays that appear on the monitor.
2. Electrophysiology of the heart
Electrophysiology of the heart is performed in patients with arrhythmias. In this examination, the doctor inserts electrodes into the heart through the catheter. The electrodes function to send electrical signals to the heart, and record the response from the heart.
Post Heart Check Up
Patients can generally go home immediately after a heart check up. For patients who are given sedatives before the examination, it is recommended to be accompanied by family or friends when they go home.
For patients undergoing cardiac examinations with contrast agents, doctors will recommend drinking plenty of water to help speed up the removal of fluids from the body.
On ECG examination, the results can be immediately known after the examination is completed. Whereas on an MRI examination, patients usually have to wait a week or more to find out the results.
After undergoing a heart examination, the doctor can advise patients to change their lifestyle to be healthier, undergo further tests, or provide treatment, depending on the results of the examination.
Heart Check Up Side Effects
The content of iodine in contrast fluid used in CT scanning, the risk of causing allergic reactions in the form of itchy and reddened skin, skin rashes, respiratory problems, or even cardiac arrest.
On ECG examination, the electrodes that are attached can cause a rash on the patient’s body, but generally will disappear by itself.
Drugs or physical exercise done in a stress test are at risk of causing heart rhythm disorders. However, this condition only occurs temporarily.
Such is the explanation of the heart check up that we can summarize for you. Hopefully this article can be useful for you, Don’t forget to share this article with your friends on social media so that when he wants a heart check up, he already knows the procedure.