Aug 10, 2022 When You Should Have a Heart Check-Up

Physician checking a woman's heart

As the most important muscle in our bodies, the heart pumps nutrient-rich blood, helping us function and giving us life. In some cases, our heart provides warning signs of a problem, but many times it doesn't.

The following are general guidelines that indicate a heart checkup is in order. It’s also important to maintain a relationship with a primary care doctor who can help you in determining cardiac risk factors and direct you to an appropriate heart specialist if needed.

  • Chest pain or discomfort – this can be a result of cholesterol buildup narrowing the arteries and limiting the blood supply to your heart.
  • Arrhythmia – also known as an irregular heartbeat, arrhythmias occur when the heart beats too fast, too slow or with an irregular rhythm. If left undiagnosed, arrhythmias can cause sudden cardiac arrest, resulting in loss of consciousness and death.
  • Extreme fatigue and dizziness – ongoing tiredness and dizziness that affect your daily routine can be a sign of a heart attack. If that fatigue increases with physical activity, it may be an indication of heart failure.
  • Body pain – depending on where the pain is, it could be the result of a different heart-related condition. Pain in the upper body, including the arms, back, shoulders, neck, jaw or abdomen, are often warning signs of a heart attack. If the pain is located in neck, back, jaw, throat or abdomen it may be a sign of heart disease.
  • Unexplained shortness of breath – if you often find yourself unable to take complete breaths, it could be a sign of congestive heart failure – meaning the heart doesn’t properly pump blood – or a problem with the valves in your heart.
  • Family history of heart disease – get the facts on the health of parents, grandparents and siblings to help you manage heart disease risk.
  • High cholesterol – work with your physician to lower cholesterol through diet, exercise, and if needed, medication.

If you are experiencing any of the warning signs, it is time to reach out to your physician.

Whoever your heart beats for, our hearts beat for you. Connect with a top cardiovascular specialist at RWJBarnabas Health by calling 1-888-724-7123 or view Heart and Vascular Care.