Thinking of Joining a Gym This Year? Get a Heart Scan First: Experts

Leading a more active lifestyle and joining a gym for physical exercise is an excellent resolution one can make for the New Year. But it is important to first get your heart checked up to assess the risk of a heart attack, experts have said.

Said Dr. Tausif Ahmed Thangalvadi, Medical Director at NURA, a collaboration between Fujifilm Healthcare and Dr Kutty’s Healthcare offering AI-enabled imaging in Bengaluru and Gurugram: “There is a gym craze sweeping the nation among all age groups. However, cases are also coming to light of many people, even celebrities and youngsters, unexpectedly collapsing during exercise due to heart attack. The reason is the gradual buildup of calcified plaque in the arteries. This can grow and lead to narrowing of coronary arteries and increased risk of heart attack, as rigorous physical exercise puts lot of strain on the heart.”

He added: “Plaque in arteries is much more common in men than women, and its incidence increases as you advance in age. Before hitting the gym, everyone should get themselves a coronary calcium scan to measure calcium-containing plaque in arteries. Go slow on exercise if you have a buildup of plaque and immediately consult a cardiologist.”

Preventive screening tests such as heart calcium scan can detect the plaque early when the build-up has just begun. Forewarned, the patient can take preventive measures with lifestyle modifications. Said Dr. Tausif Ahmed Thangalvadi: “Today, the world over, Heart Calcium Score is recommended for screening cardiac risk in asymptomatic people. In this, a low-dose CT scan is used to take cross-sections of the heart’s blood vessels to look for build-up of calcified plaques made of fats, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances in the blood. The Heart Calcium Score helps us identify a person at risk of a heart attack even before signs and symptoms develop.”

About 20% of asymptomatic people undergoing routine preventive screening at NURA have been found to have build-up of calcified plaque in their heart. Many of them have a very high chance of heart attack but remain completely unaware of the threat, as there are no symptoms. They have been saved in the nick of time as their condition could be diagnosed before a heart attack occurred.

As per the WHO Global Health estimates, nearly 11% of Indian population suffers from coronary artery disease (heart disease). This means that 1 out of every 10 Indians suffers from heart disease, which is much higher than the world average.

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