Friday, June 14, 2013

Detecting heart disease

McCall Style & Beauty, c. 1939

Cardiovascular disease, or heart disease, is any disease that affects the cardiovascular system. It is the leading cause of deaths woldwide. According to the CDC's website, 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year.

I came across an article by cardiologist Dr. Sheri Boyd in a recent issue of Moxie Magazine about the importance of getting screened for anyone who has risk factors for heart disease. In the article, she mentions a special CT scanner known as a coronary calcium score that checks for the buildup of calcium in plaque on the walls of the heart's arteries.

After the test is administered, the doctor assigns the patient a low, moderate, or high risk calcium score. As she explains, "the more calcium in the heart blood vessels, the higher the risk for serious blockage and the greater the risk  for a heart attack in the future."

Reading this article made me think as to whether I would be affected by heart disease--mainly due to my hypochondria.

The CDC lists the following risk factors for heart disease:
  • High blood pressure
  • High LDL cholesterol aka "Bad Cholesterol"
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Poor diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use
Although I do drink alcohol (slightly excessive), the only key risk factor that might apply to me would be diabetes.

Had it not been for my wife, I'd be eating Whataburger and Burger King and drinking diet cokes. If it weren't for my son, I'd be watching TV and playing video games all the time. My life would be absolutely different. I'd be unhealthy.

So, perhaps, I shouldn't be concerned about heart disease. Maybe this isn't a health issue I should be concerned with. I'm guessing the hypochondriac in me will find something else wrong with my health.


Photograph by Nickolas Muray, c. 1939


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