Question:

With my family’s cardiac history, what should I do to be proactive about my health?

I am a 43 year old female. I recently had an echocardiogram due to some shortness of breath and palpitations. I do not have high BP nor do I have high cholesterol / lipids. LDL &HDL are great. I run 3 miles four times a week. My echo shows aortic and mitral valve sclerosis. I have a strong/positive family for heart disease. What do I need to do proactively?

Submitted by Tina from Tennessee on 11/03/2014

Tina,

Valve sclerosis has been shown to correlate with the presence of coronary artery disease and an overall higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. With the presence of mitral and aortic valvular sclerosis on your recent echocardiogram and a strong family history, it would be wise for you to see a cardiologist. Women can have atypical symptoms of coronary artery disease such as jaw pain, shortness of breath, burning in their chest, or arm pain. A cardiologist can take a detailed history, perform a physical exam and electrocardiogram, as well as blood work to better assess your risk of having or developing cardiovascular disease. A cardiologist can also order an advanced lipid panel that gives a more detailed analysis of your cholesterol, including your lipoprotein (a) level, a genetically inherited form of elevated cholesterol which, unfortunately, is not lowered by diet or exercise. Elevated levels of lipoprotein (a) are also associated with valve sclerosis. High lipoprotein (a) can be treated with niaspan, which is actually vitamin B3, and a statin drug. A better understanding of your personal risk factors will allow you to proactively prevent cardiovascular disease.

Best in Health.