In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask our experts to answer readers' questions about a wide range of topics. In our September 2011 issue, we gave a reader's question about preventing heart disease to James Beckerman, MD, WebMD's heart health expert.
Q : Heart disease runs in my family. What can I really do now to help prevent it?
A : Cut out these five things to greatly reduce your risk:
Smoking (or hanging around with smokers). Smoking is the most dangerous -- yet most reversible...
Doctors check, or monitor, cardiac devices on a regular basis to make sure that they are working right and aren't causing any problems. Doctors also check the battery to see if it needs to be replaced.
Your doctor can also get information about your heart rate and heart rhythm. Cardiac devices can keep a record of when you had an abnormal heart rate or an irregular heart rhythm. So these devices can help your doctor know how your heart is doing and if you need any changes in your treatment.
Monitoring is done at office visits and remotely. Remote monitoring is done by telephone or the Internet.
Your doctor will
check your pacemaker regularly to make sure that it is working correctly and that the settings are right for you. The process of checking your pacemaker settings is called
The strength and length of the impulse sent to the
heart muscle and how fast the pacemaker will go can be programmed into the
pacemaker. Your doctor may adjust the pacemaker programming, if needed.
Your doctor will
check your ICD regularly to make sure that it is working correctly and that the settings are right for you.
ICDs can store a lot of information that your doctor will look at. Your doctor will check to see if you had any irregular heart rhythms or if the ICD gave you any therapy (like a shock). If you have had a shock, your doctor will make sure that it was given at the right time and that it didn't happen when you didn't need it.
Monitoring at your doctor's office
No surgery is needed to check your
cardiac device. The doctor places a special programming tool directly on
your chest (on top of your skin and clothes). The tool automatically sends back
Your doctor may check the skin around your implanted device to make sure that there are no signs of an infection.