Early diagnosis

Published 9:02 pm Friday, August 8, 2014

Considering how much doctors know about the problem today, compared to what they understood about it three or four decades ago, it seems a bit surprising that cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States.

But in fact, despite the wealth of knowledge about the heart risks posed by everything from cholesterol to obesity to diabetes, an American dies from cardiovascular disease every 39 seconds.

That statistic brings into sharp focus the need for medical professionals to diagnose potential heart-related problems as early as possible. An early diagnosis of potential problems can give doctors a chance to prescribe interventional therapies, medications and lifestyle changes that could solve their patients’ health issues. And in the case of life-threatening issues uncovered on the verge of asserting themselves as full-blown medical emergencies, such a diagnosis could mean the difference between life and sudden death.


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So every new test and piece of equipment that can help doctors in Suffolk find and treat their patients’ cardiovascular issues represents a life potentially prolonged or even saved and a family grateful for the extra time with a loved one.

Bon Secours Health Center’s Diagnostic Cardiac Services recently won re-accreditation for its echocardiography services, through which more than 5,000 people have been tested since last August. An echocardiogram is like an ultrasound of the heart, a non-invasive way for doctors “to evaluate the structure and function of the heart” according to cardiologist Ryan Seutter.

The technology is one of the arrows in a modern cardiologist’s quiver, and it’s just the kind of thing that will help turn around the terrible numbers associated with cardiovascular disease.

America has a long way to go before heart disease becomes a thing of the past. But with the concerted efforts of health-oriented groups encouraging Americans to get in shape and eat better, along with medical professionals using the most advanced technology available — even here in Suffolk — there is hope that one day medical issues arising from cardiovascular disease will be rare, minor, quickly diagnosed and easily treated.