You are healthy, right? You feel good and take reasonable care of yourself. You have not seen a doctor in years. What good reason is there to see a cardiologist? The answer in one word is: prevention. Heart disease and stroke are both highly preventable and treatable. There is no reason for anyone to have either a heart attack or stroke. Prevention is the key. There are several risk factors which can increase your risk of heart attacks and strokes including: hypertension, high cholesterol, elevated inflammation levels, diabetes and elevated blood sugar levels, being over weight, increased belly fat, lack of exercise, family history of cardiovascular disease, and smoking. Both heart attacks and stroke are vascular diseases. They both involve our arteries which carry blood and nutrients to the heart and brain. Many people think heart attacks and strokes are sudden events. They are not. In fact, there is usually evidence of diseased arteries (atherosclerosis) years, if not decades ahead of time. There are several non-invasive ways to assess the health of your arteries. Two methods are ultrasound and CT scans. Ultrasound is a favorite of mine, because no radiation is used. A simple ultrasound of the neck arteries (a carotid artery ultrasound) can give you important information on the health of your arteries. Plaque in the walls of the arteries can be visualized by ultrasound. In fact, it can be detected at an early stage. Even mild plaque can be visualized. If it is detected, corrective action can prevent future disasters. Clearly, if you smoke, you need to stop. Smoking directly damages the artery wall which leads to plaque formation. Lowering blood pressure will reduce risk of heart attacks and stroke. Lowering you cholesterol numbers can also help lower your risk. A new measure of cholesterol, LDL-(p), which measures the total number of bad cholesterol particles, can help define your risk. You want to avoid the small, dense LDL (bad) particles which help to promote plaque. Losing weight, shrinking your belly, and exercise all help to reduce your risk. Is your inflammation level high? Reducing inflammation levels will reduce your risk. Think of your cardiologist as a coach. He can help assess your risk and then discuss ways with you to help reduce your risk. It is all about being proactive. Most heart attacks and stroke are preventable. Do not delay! Do not procrastinate any longer! Get an assessment and reduce your risk. Reducing your risk will help you feel better and live longer. Dr Greenberg specializes in preventive cardiology and nutrition. To make an appointment with Dr Greenberg at Cardiac Solutions please call 623.876.8816.