Structural Heart Disease Prevention
In most cases, inherited forms of structural heart disease cannot be prevented. If you have a family history of heart defects or genetic disorders, you should consider talking with a WellStar physician before becoming pregnant.
A major step in preventing the acquired forms of structural heart disease is to get prompt treatment for a sore throat that lasts longer than 48 hours, especially if it is accompanied by a fever. Timely administration of antibiotics can prevent the development of rheumatic fever, which can lead to valvular heart disease. A heart healthy lifestyle and good dental care can also prevent the factors that can lead to valvular heart disease.
Help Reduce Your Risk of Structural Heart Disease
You might not be able to reduce your risk of inherited forms of structural heart disease, but you can reduce the risks in future generations if you discuss any family history of heart defects or genetic disorders with your doctor.
You can lower your chances of valvular heart disease through several methods:
- Seek proper treatment for a sore throat
- Don’t smoke or drink alcohol
- Eat healthy foods and reduce sodium intake
- Exercise as recommended by your WellStar physician
- Control certain physical conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes
- Maintain proper dental hygiene
Tests and Screenings for Structural Heart Disease
In diagnosing for structural heart disease, your WellStar physician will take a careful medical history and perform a physical examination. Through a physical examination, your physician can determine if you have a heart murmur or other signs of the disease, such as fluid around the lungs an irregular heartbeat or fluid build-up in your legs or abdomen.
Based on the exam, your physician might order some of these tests:
- Chest X-ray to reveal fluid build-up in the lungs or calcium deposits in your heart.
- Blood tests to check your kidney and thyroid functions or for diseases that could affect the performance of your heart.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) to record the electrical activity of your heart and to reveal if there are rhythm abnormalities
- Echocardiogram, an ultrasound test, designed to show the pumping performance of your heart, a measurement known as the ejection fraction. In a healthy heart, the ejection fraction is about 55 percent, which means that just over half of your blood filling the ventricle with each cardiac cycle is pumped out with each beat.
- Cardiac Stress Tests, which measure your hearts performance during exertion
- Coronary Catheterization or angiogram in which a thin, flexible tube (catheter) is inserted into your groin or arm and guided through the aorta into your heart. Dye is injected through the tube for fluoroscopic visualization.
- Cardiac Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), which can provide a three-dimensional image of your heart