Cardiovascular screening. Cardiovascular disease (which includes both heart attack and stroke) is the second leading cause of death in Singapore, after cancer. Approximately 2000 people in Singapore suffer a heart attack each year.
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Furthermore, due to the earlier adoption of unhealthy lifestyle habits, heart disease is occurring at a younger age. Nowadays, it is not unusual to see patients as young as 40 develop heart disease with symptoms.
Similarly, we are beginning to see more women with heart disease nowadays. This is largely due to the increased prevalence of smoking and diabetes among women. In the US, the fatality rate for women with heart disease is 6 times that of women with breast cancer. Hence, it is very useful for one to debunk the common myths surrounding heart disease.
As with all maladies in life, prevention is always better than cure. While treatments are advancing every year, cardiovascular screening may help high-risk individuals benefit from aggressive preventive strategies. Today, we have at our disposal, highly sensitive diagnostic tools such as carotid ultrasound, coronary calcium scanning and CT coronary angiogram which allow us to identify early cholesterol deposits in the arteries of the brain and heart.
Individuals who may benefit from cardiovascular screening include:
1. Men (aged 40 & above) and women (aged 50 & above) with at least one of the following risk factors:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family history of heart disease
2. Men and women who want to participate in strenuous sports such as triathlons and marathons.
This article was contributed by Dr Raymond Lee Kok Keong, cardiologist and heart specialist at Novena Heart Centre in Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital (Singapore).