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Your Heart Health Matters
Published:  Oct 19, 2022 3:24 PM
Updated: 7:24 AM

The term “heart disease” often can refer to several types of heart conditions. The most common type of heart disease is the coronary artery disease which is also the leading cause of global mortality and morbidity.

Coronary artery disease is a heart condition that affects the major blood vessels. It prevents the blood vessels from supplying enough blood, oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle, which would eventually lead to a heart attack.

In this interview, Dr Lee Li Ching, Cardiologist from Cardiac Vascular Sentral Kuala Lumpur (CVSKL) would be sharing her insights on the classic symptoms of a heart attack, procedure of a heart screening process, what an individual can do to lower their risk of heart disease and more.

Diseases involving the heart“There are many types of heart disease, and each one has its own symptoms and treatment. Some of the diseases involving the heart include heart failure, the heart muscles not pumping well, leaking valves (heart valves that don't close tightly enough), arrhythmias (happens when there is an irregular heart beating pattern), congenital heart disease and more,” said Dr Lee.

Classic symptoms of a heart attack

Dr Lee explained that some of the most common symptoms of a heart attack are chest pain that may feel like pressure, tightness, pain, squeezing or aching. This pain or discomfort will then spread to the shoulder, neck or the left upper arm. You also may experience cold sweat, fatigue, heartburn, lightheadedness, nausea and shortness of breath.

“People will often describe it as 'an elephant sat on my chest' that sort of constricting feeling”

“Smoking, having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity or a strong family history of heart disease makes you more likely to get coronary artery disease. If you're at high risk of coronary artery disease, talk to your health care provider. You may need tests to check for narrowed arteries or coronary artery disease,” said Dr Lee.

Pacemakers for a weak heart

The most common reason people get a pacemaker is when their heart beats too slowly or it pauses, causing fainting spells and other symptoms. Some special pacemakers  can also be used to help your heart chambers beat in sync if your heart is too weak and isn’t pumping enough blood to your body. This can happen because of: 

  • Certain congenital heart diseases

  • Enlarged or thick heart muscle that makes it harder to pump blood out of your ventricles

  • Ischaemic heart disease causing weak heart

Dr Lee explained that the heart functions as a house with four rooms. Your heart valves are like doors between your heart chambers. They open and close to allow blood to flow through. Then there is also the wiring as well as the drainage system. Typically the concern is usually the drainage system (where blockage of the artery would occur).

What does a heart screening detect?

Screening tests find disease before symptoms begin. The goal of screening is to detect disease at its earliest and most treatable stage.

Screening tests may include:

Electrocardiography (ECG or EKG): Measures the electrical activity of the heart and records information on heart rate and rhythm.

Exercise cardiac stress test: Involves walking on a treadmill at increasing levels of difficulty. During this test, the doctor checks your heart rate, blood pressure, and the electrical activity of your heart using ECG. This helps check if there is enough blood flow to your heart when it is stressed. 

Coronary CT angiography: Uses CT and contrast material to create three-dimensional images of your coronary arteries. This helps your doctor pinpoint the exact location, extent of plaque buildup (both calcified and noncalcified), and if there is blockage or narrowing (called stenosis) of your coronary arteries.

You can prevent heart disease by following a heart-healthy lifestyle. Here are strategies to help you protect your heart.

  1. Practise a healthy diet

  2. Maintain a healthy weight

  3. Get moving (be physically active)

  4. Avoid smoking or use of tobacco

  5. Manage your stress levels

Prevention is key to longevity

Your health care team can help reduce your risk of heart disease to live a longer, healthier life. Whether or not you are presenting symptoms of cardiovascular disease, you should continue consistent check-ups. This will offer peace of mind or help to catch any dangerous symptoms early on.

Specialising in comprehensive modern care for patients with cardiac and vascular diseases, CVSKL is backed by a sterling track record of achievements and expertise. Their hand-picked team of dedicated specialists ensures the highest standards of evidence-based and professional care.

Visit to make an appointment with CVSKL’s  team of experienced specialist doctors and cardiologists today.