6 Tests to Determine Heart Disease

When asked what the leading disease attributed to death is, you probably think the obvious answer is cancer. While cancer(s) can be a devastating disease, it is actually not the leading cause of death. That title belongs to heart disease.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the world’s biggest killer is ischemic heart disease which is responsible for 16% of the world’s total deaths. Since 2000, the largest increase in deaths has been from this disease, rising by more than two million to 8.9 million deaths in 2019. Stroke (11%) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (6%) are the second and third leading causes of death, respectively.

In 2020 alone, heart disease was the leading cause of death in the United States, attributing to nearly 700,000 total deaths. These numbers will likely continue to rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on those with underlying conditions, especially cardiovascular and respiratory.

Heart Disease Facts

  • You are 12 times more likely to die from heart disease than all cancers combined.
  • One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease, according to the CDC.
  • According to a report from the American Heart Association, about 659,000 people die from heart disease each year, or 1 in every 4 deaths.
  • From 2016 to 2017, heart disease cost the United States nearly $363 billion, which included the cost of health care services, medicines, and lost productivity due to death.
  • About 18.2 million adults (age 20 and older) have coronary artery disease (CAD) and two in 10 deaths from CAD happen in adults less than 65 years old.
  • In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds.
  • Every year in the US, nearly 805,000 people have a heart attack; 75% are a first heart attacks, while 20% are a repeat instances.

In the age of COVID, about 20-30 percent of those hospitalized with the virus have shown heart problems. Additionally, these patients also tended to have more severe symptoms and worse health outcomes. This is staggering due to heart disease being labeled as a “silent killer,” meaning most are unaware of their issue until it is too late.

Patients with heart disease and those suspected of having it often undergo a battery of tests ordered by their doctor. These tests depend on what condition a patient is suspected of having and can range from blood tests to a chest X-ray to even more advanced testing.

Diagnostic Tests for Heart Disease

According to the Mayo Clinic, tests to diagnose heart disease can include:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG): Records the electrical signals in your heart and can spot abnormal heart rhythms. Can be performed while you’re at rest or exercising.
  • Holter Monitoring: A Holter Monitor is a portable ECG device you wear to continually record your heart rhythm usually over a 24-72 hour span. It is used to detect heart rhythm issues that may not be detected during a regular ECG.
  • Echocardiogram: A noninvasive exam using sound waves to produce detailed images of your heart’s structure, showing how your heart beats and pumps blood.
  • Stress Test: Usually requires patients to perform some sort of exercise (i.e., walking on a treadmill) to raise their heart rate while performing heart tests and imaging to see how their heart responds.
  • Cardiac Catheterization: Unlike the aforementioned tests, this test is an invasive procedure. Patients may be slightly sedated or under general anesthesia as the doctor inserts a sheath into a vein or artery in the patient’s arm or groin. A guide catheter is then inserted into the sheath while the team uses X-ray images to guide the catheter through the artery until it reaches the heart. During the procedure, the pressures in the heart chambers can be measured and contrast may be injected to help the doctor see blood flow through the patient’s heart, blood vessels, and valves.

Risk Factors and Prevention

Not only is heart disease the leading cause of death in the United States, but it also may contribute to disability for those affected. How can one prevent themselves from getting heart disease or lessen their risk?

There are many things you can do to mitigate your risk for heart disease, however, some things are simply out of your control.

Things out of your control include age, sex, race or ethnicity, and family history.

Luckily there are things you can do to reduce your chances of heart disease. These include controlling your blood pressure, monitoring cholesterol and triglyceride levels, maintaining a healthy weight, diet and exercise, smoking habits, and sleep.

Labs on the MOMS platform offer a variety of specialized tests for patients in need. Contact us today to see how MOMS can help those seeking a better experience in navigating the most commonly requested services and information needed in healthcare.


**Medically reviewed by Dr. Sona Kirpekar, MD

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