How a Healthy Heart Works
The heart is about the size of a person's fist. This muscular organ is at the center of the circulatory system, which consists of a network of blood vessels, such as arteries, veins and capillaries.
The heart’s main job is to pump oxygen-rich blood to the body after it pumps the oxygen-poor blood from the lungs in a cycle that flows from the body to the heart, from the heart to the lungs, from the lungs to the heart and from the heart to the
The nervous and endocrine systems make up the electrical system of the heart. This complex system controls the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat. When disease or injury weakens the heart, the other organs in the body don’t receive enough blood from
working normally. Conditions affecting the nervous and endocrine systems may make it harder for the heart to pump blood.
Symptoms of a Heart Condition
Sometimes, patients don’t know they have a heart condition until they experience signs of a heart attack. We suggest consulting a cardiologist and having a cardiovascular assessment when you experience the following signs and symptoms of heart disease:
- Chest pain or pressure in the chest
- Pain or discomfort in the arms,
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and fatigue
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Cold sweats
You can also take our heart quiz for an initial heart assessment.
Heart Health Diagnosis
With accurate cardiovascular assessment, our cardiologists in Turlock provide suitable treatment options for patients to help improve their heart health and quality of life and to prevent further complications. Here are some of Emanuel Medical Center’s
diagnostic tools for heart disease:
- Ambulatory electrocardiography and Holter monitoring – also known as Holter monitoring, ambulatory electrocardiogram (ECG) or ambulatory electrocardiogram (EKG), is one of the heart monitoring services offered in Turlock, CA which measures
the electrical activity of the heart during daily activities.
- Blood tests – may include tests for cardiac enzymes, C-reactive protein (CRP), fibrinogen, homocysteine, lipoproteins, triglycerides, brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) and prothrombin to determine the heart condition after a heart attack
and to assess future risk for cardiovascular disease.
- Cardiac catheterization – uses special X-rays called angiograms to examine the blood vessels. One of the tests for heart disease is performed to know if there is plaque buildup, measure blood pressure, evaluate heart muscle and valve
function and determine the best course of treatment.
- Cardiac computed tomography (CT) scan – A collective term that includes electron-beam CT (EBCT), positron emission tomography (PET) scan, dynamic cerebral angiography (DCA), digital subtraction angiography (DSA), multidetector CT or MDCT,
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and single-photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT). These procedures create three-dimensional (3D) images of the heart that can show blockages in the coronary arteries.
- Echocardiogram – includes a handheld device that uses high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to produce images of the heart’s size, structure and motion.
- Electrocardiogram – also known as electrocardiography, records the heart’s electrical activity, including its timing and duration of heartbeats.
- Exercise stress test – also known as a treadmill test, exercise test and cardiac stress test. This procedure includes a monitor with electrodes attached to the skin that records the heart function while performing a particular activity.
- Thallium stress test – also known as myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI), multi-gated acquisition (MUGA) scan, radionuclide stress test and nuclear stress test. This procedure is the same as the exercise test but with images.
- Tilt-table test – usually used for people who often feel faint or lightheaded, this procedure involves the patient lying on a tilted table, and the doctor monitors how the blood pressure and heart rate respond to the force of gravity.
- Transesophageal echocardiography – involves an ultrasound to produce detailed pictures of the heart.
- X-ray – creates pictures of the heart, lungs and bones.
A combination of the above procedures is also included for your annual cardiovascular screening. How often you get these procedures depends on your history and cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Heart Health Tips
It is important to remember that regardless of your age or current state of health, it is never too late to practice heart health tips to protect your heart.
- Eat healthy – A healthy diet includes a variety of grains, fruits and vegetables. Opt for foods low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugar and salt. Learn more about healthy eating here.
- Exercise regularly – As little as 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days of the week is all you need to protect heart health. Don’t know where to start? Learn about starting an exercise plan here.
- Don’t smoke – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is “the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death and disease in the United States.” If that doesn’t encourage
you to stop smoking, here are 11 things you gain when you quit smoking.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Losing weight isn’t easy, but maintaining a healthy weight may be a bit harder. Here’s a healthy weight strategy for you!