At risk for heart disease? Now what?

Thomas Phiambolis, MD

Director, Cardiac CT Angiography – Main Line Health System

Early detection is the best way to prevent heart disease and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. The coronary artery calcium score is a unique tool that can help physicians determine: one, whether or not you have the disease; and two, how extensive it is. It can also help doctors tailor a personal prevention program to reduce or reverse its progression.

If the test determines you are in the early stages of heart disease, lifestyle changes are probably in order. The first thing to look at is your nutrition—your doctor may recommend you meet with a nutritionist who will help you make heart-healthier food choices, like adopting a Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruit, vegetables, fish and whole grains. Stress management and exercise are also important to incorporate into your prevention program, and, if they apply, smoking-cessation and weight-management programs. It may also be necessary to use medication like statins to help lower LDL levels (or bad cholesterol) in the blood.

No one wants to hear that they’re at risk for a heart attack, but getting that wake up call early gives you the chance to make necessary lifestyle changes to prevent a heart attack or stroke. Thanks to tests like the coronary artery calcium score, your doctor will be able to work with you to determine the best ways to stop heart disease before it stops your heart.

Join Dr. Phiambolis live on Lankenau’s Wednesday Web Chat, May 15 at 7 p.m.: Using New Heart Screenings to Develop Personalized Prevention Programs. Sign up now.

Are you Heart Smart? Take the Lankenau Heart Smart Challenge.