Chronic diseases that affect the heart include hypertension, diabetes and disorders of cholesterol.
- Hypertension (or high blood pressure) is when the force of blood in the vessels is exerted. Blood pressure higher than 140 over 90 mmHg is considered high blood pressure. Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to severe complications and increase the risk of heart disease and strokes. Management of high blood pressure usually includes lifestyle changes and long-term medications to help lower blood pressure, but this will also depend on the type - white coat hypertension, masked hypertension or sustained hypertension. In addition, regular check-ups with your cardiologist will be needed to ensure treatment is working and that your blood pressure is controlled. This may involve regular ambulatory blood pressure readings.
- Diabetes is categorised by high blood sugar (glucose) levels in the body due to an inability to produce enough insulin or insulin resistance that allows your body to absorb the energy it needs from your food. Left untreated, high blood sugar levels can damage the blood vessels and nerves of the heart and blood vessels leading to higher risk of developing heart disease and strokes. Management of diabetes includes making better lifestyle choices to reduce cholesterol and control blood pressure and insulin levels. Dr Ho will also prescribe medications to protect your heart and lower your risk of developing heart disease, or stroke.
- High cholesterol can increase your risk of developing heart disease, heart attack and stroke. While your body needs cholesterol to build healthy cells, high levels of cholesterol in the blood can increase fatty deposits in your blood vessels, blocking the flow of blood to and from the heart. A healthy diet, regular exercise and medications that help reduce high cholesterol and unhealthy fats in the blood. Long term management of this condition by your cardiologist is essential for a healthy heart.