When it comes to heart disease, a local cardiologist says it is never too early to check to get checked out. According to experts, heart disease comes in many forms. as there are various types of heart disease and can present itself differently to each individual.
“All these cardiac risk factors put you at high risk of having heart disease, whether that’s high blood pressure, whether that’s cholesterol issues, diabetes, history of smoking,” said Dr. Jeff Park, a cardiologist with Aurora Denver Cardiology Associates at The Medical Center of Aurora. “I think that all encompasses what heart disease really is.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, coronary artery disease (CAD) is one of the most common types of heart disease in the U.S. In 2017, heart disease was the second leading cause of death in Colorado.
Heart arrhythmia, heart valve disease and heart failure are among the many types of heart disease.
Park said high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. .
With high blood pressure, there is more pressure on the arteries and as people age, they harden. When the arteries harden, the blood cannot move as easily.
“You take a garden hose and you turn the water on and that water’s kind of free flowing, and that’s your heart vessel when you’re young,” said Park. “And then when you start taking your hand and your thumb and put it over the end of that garden hose, the pressure in the hose starts increasing, the water starts flowing a little bit faster, and a bit harder.”
Problems arise when the arteries harden too much, causing the pressure to be too high. When this happens, the heart has to work overtime. Park says it is the long standing effects of high blood pressure that concerns cardiologists.
The heart having to work overtime can often cause what is called, demand ischemia. According to Park, this is when the heart and the demand and the supply of the heart are mismatched and the heart has to work overtime in order to overcome those high blood pressures.
Symptoms of heart disease can be different for everyone..
“I see a lot of patients who just have very vague symptoms,” said Park. “They’re like, ‘I just couldn’t sleep well. I just kind of felt there’s a weird kind of sensation in my chest and you know, it wasn’t anything severe and it kind of moved up my neck’.”
According to Park, one can never be too sure about the heart, therefore, it is worth going to get a check up and a test.
Those experiencing chest pain and seeking medical attention will typically have an EKG done to monitor the heart rhythm. Special marker’s of a heart attack will show up in blood work said Park.
“If you notice something’s changed, I think that’s the time where you really reevaluate that decision and say, ‘maybe it’s not the worst thing just to kind of reassure myself’,” said Park.