| For people with heart disease in their families, it's important|
to seek medical attention before symptoms arise.
“I was really disappointed,” says John, a contractor from New Jersey. “Almost all the males in my family died from heart disease, but I thought I was doing everything right to prevent heart disease.”
John says he exercises daily, doesn’t smoke and has maintained a healthy weight since his early 30s.
It’s never too early to go to the doctorUnfortunately for John, sometimes eating right and exercising isn’t enough to prevent heart disease.
“For people with a family history of cardiovascular disease, it’s important to seek medical attention before symptoms arise,” says Emil deGoma, MD, medical director of the Preventive Cardiovascular Program at Penn. “A wealth of data has shown that heart attacks are preventable with lifestyle modification and medications available today. It sounds futuristic – the idea that we can halt and even reverse plaque build-up in the arteries, but it isn’t. We have the opportunity to affect the course of the disease and help patients avoid the heart attacks suffered by their relatives.”According to Dr. deGoma, it may even be appropriate for people at high risk to see a cardiologist as early as their teenage years.
“If someone has a relative who developed CAD at an early age, like John, early evaluation is important to see what measures should be taken to prevent heart disease. We don’t have the luxury of waiting for symptoms to occur. A heart attack may come without any prior warning symptoms, and the first catastrophic event may be fatal.” says Dr. deGoma.
“I wish someone had told me to get checked out earlier,” says John. “I may have been able to prevent getting heart disease.”
Advanced heart disease prevention services at PennThe assessment services of the Preventive Cardiovascular Program at Penn can determine a person’s risk for developing heart disease – a critical first step to preventing heart attacks. This comprehensive evaluation for heart disease may include imaging tests to evaluate the health of the arteries as well as blood tests to assess lipids/lipoproteins and genes that predispose someone to heart and vascular disease.
With the results of these tests, physicians, nurses and dietitians collaborate to develop a personalized approach to minimize the risk of heart attack and stroke.
“We start by establishing a baseline that guides a course of action based on each patient’s individual needs,” says Dr. deGoma. “It’s never too early to get evaluated.”
People with a family history of heart disease or at risk for heart disease can make an appointment for cardiovascular assessment by calling 215-615-4949 or 800-789-PENN (7366).
More information about the Preventive Cardiovascular Program at Penn is available online.