For most of us, the demands of our families, friends, careers and other relationships leave us with little time for smaller things – even for our regular doctor visits. This shouldn’t be the case. Earlier and better heart disease detection is crucial for protecting ourselves and reducing our risk of developing irreversible heart problems. The following health screenings are available at most hospitals and medical centres in Singapore, so do your part now and be proactive in managing your heart health.
1. Cardiac Calcium Scoring
How the Test Works: This heart screening Singapore test works when the CT scanner checks your heart’s arteries for atherosclerotic plaque. The electrodes will be attached to your chest for the EKG machine to monitor your heartbeat. You will be asked to lie down on an exam table that slides in a short chamber and to hold your breath for up to 20 seconds.
Why Take This Test: This examination is ideal for predicting future heart attacks. A calcified plaque, which is a major indicator of a coronary artery disease, shows up several years before a stroke or a heart attack hits. By detecting it early, it enables you to treat the plaque build-up, thereby preventing future occurrences of heart attacks.
When to Have the Test: It’s best to have this test at a cardiologist in Singapore when you’re over 50 years old, and has a high heart disease risk. Younger people can also have the test if a family member died or was diagnosed of the disease and have existing health issues that could be a risk factor to heart disease. However, pregnant women should avoid taking this test as it involves usage of x-ray machines.
What the Result Means: In this test, you’ll be provided with an Agatston score that states the total amount of soft and hard plaques in your arteries. A zero score means you don’t have any calcium deposits, which likely means very low risk of heart attack in the next five years; a score of 400 and up puts you at a high heart attack risk in the next 10 years; and a score of 1,000 above indicates that you have a 25 percent chance of experiencing heart attack within a year if no medical treatments are done.
2. Carotid Intima-Media Thickness Test
How the Test Works: This screening test is usually done in the neck area to check on the carotid arteries that supply blood to the brain. After applying some gel on the neck, the technician will slowly glide an ultrasound transducer over your carotid artery to measure the thickness of the lining.
What the Result Means: Once the test is done, your technician should provide you with two readings: the thickness of the carotid lining (1.06 mm being the normal measurement), and your arterial age, which is an estimate of the thickness of your arteries compared to that of a healthy person of your age. If the result shows that your arteries are several years older than you are, your heart specialist Singapore will immediately tailor a treatment to help reduce development of heart disease.
3. High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein Test
How the Test Works: This test is basically a blood test that measures that amount of C-reactive protein found in your bllodstream, a protein that indicates inflammation throughout the body.
Why Take This Test: Cholesterol plaque injures the blood vessels, raising the CRP levels in your blood and triggering inflammation. This can be dangerous since people with higher levels of CRP are four times more likely to suffer from heart attack and stroke. Having a high CRP is most dangerous if you also have waist circumference of 35 inches and up, indicating the presence of belly fat.
When to Have the Test: Singapore health experts advise having this test if you’re 40 years old and above.
What the Result Means: If your test score is below 1.0 mg per litre, then you have a low risk of developing heart disease. A test score between 1.0 and 3.0 mg/l puts you at an average risk, while a score higher than 3.0 means that you have a high heart disease risk. However, specialists don’t consider a high CRP as a warning sign unless the same results appear on three separate CRP tests. If you got three high scores, then you need to undergo a carotid intima-media thickness and a cardiac calcium scoring test to check your blood vessels.
4. Advanced Lipid Profile and Lipoprotein Test
How the Test Works: Unlike the traditional cholesterol blood test that measures triglycerides, LDL and HDL, this test looks into cholesterol’s particle size. This is essential for monitoring big, and particles that penetrates the artery lining and forms clumps of plaque. Other than that, the blood test also analyses specific types of cholesterol that triples your heart disease risk.
Why Take This Test: Sizing up your cholesterol particles gives your heart specialist Singapore a clearer picture of your heart disease risk: having lots of large cholesterol particles cuts your risk, while the small ones raises it. The more Lp (a) you have, the greater your risk becomes as it makes the LDL particles extra sticky, allowing it to cling in the lining of your blood vessels causing blood clots and plaque build-up.
When to Have the Test: Health experts recommend getting this test if you have a family history of heart disease.
5. Stress Echocardiography
How the Test Works: The is simply an improved standard stress test that uses an ultrasound to monitor the heart’s blood flow pre- and post-exercise, and to check for blockages in the heart’s arteries.
Why Take This Test: Undergoing an echocardiography test raises the accuracy of the standard stress test by 85 percent. Echocardiography also serves an excellent way of determining the severity of your heart disease, and if whether or not you’ll need to undergo a bypass or stent procedure.
When to Have the Test: Specialists suggest undergoing this test if you’ve experienced shortness of breath, and chest and neck pains, which are the common signs of heart disease.
What the Result Means: If your echocardiography test detects reduced blood flow to the heart, there’s a possibility that one or more of your coronary arteries are blocked.
Remember, you’re responsible for prioritizing your heart health. So take the initiative to schedule and attend regular heart screening Singapore tests to monitor your heart health. If you can, encourage the people around you to do same thing as well so you can work together in preventing heart disease and maintaining a healthy heart.