When it comes to determining the cause of heart disease, there are a number of factors to keep in mind. From risk factors that are hereditary in nature to those that have been caused by lifestyle choices and beyond, figuring out who will get heart disease and to what extent has long been a challenge for the medical community. In the barrage of tests available to determine who is at risk, electrocardiograms have long been thought to be a reliable method of testing, but according to a new study, this may not be the case.
According to the United States Preventative Services Task Force, there is no evidence that the ECG test can accurately assist medical professionals in diagnosing heart disease risk. This panel, backed by the U.S. government, states that the test could be more helpful if there was evidence that the test accurately predicted who would get heart disease and to what extent. Currently, the panel stated that risk factors are more accurate in predicting risk; assessing those patients that had sedentary lifestyles, engaged in smoking or other harmful activities or measuring blood pressure or levels of cholesterol in people that are not currently displaying heart disease symptoms. The panel stated that they could then intervene with such patients at that point, versus utilizing ECG to get those same results.
This is, in part, due to the high cost and potential adverse effects of the test, as follow ups to it may include invasive and costly procedures for what may not be an accurate result. The new risk guidelines call for low-risk patients to forgo this level of testing and for high risk candidates to be considered for alternative methods of diagnosis before utilizing the ECG procedure as a means of heart disease diagnosis. It is also prudent for patients to be knowledgeable about their health to avoid potentially costly and stressful testing processes for conditions for which they may not even be at risk for, such as heart disease in someone who has no risk factors whatsoever.
To treat heart disease, medical professionals recommend a combination of daily exercise, proper nutrition, plenty of rest and leading as stress free a lifestyle as possible. It also helps to mitigate risk factors, including smoking, obesity and other behaviors that may contribute to higher-than-usual incidences of heart disease.