Cardiovascular Physical Exam

A cardiovascular physical exam, or a heart checkup, is an important step in making sure your heart is healthy. At our Beverly Hills medical office, we perform a complete cardiovascular physical exam to check the health of your heart, detect early signs of cardiovascular disease, and assess any risk factors you might have for serious heart conditions.

Why do you need a heart checkup?

A heart checkup helps you catch early signs of heart disease before they progress and cause major problems that can affect your daily life. A routine physical can identify signs of many diseases, but a heart checkup focuses on your heart and how healthy it is. During a cardiovascular physical exam, one of our specialists will perform several tests and screen for common cardiac diseases. By finding out if you have any risk factors or early signs of heart conditions like coronary artery disease (CAD), arrhythmias, or others, you can act and start adjusting your lifestyle accordingly to prevent further symptoms and complications from developing.

When should you get a heart checkup?

A heart checkup is recommended for anyone at the age of 20 and above. Most cardiologists in Los Angeles suggest that, if you have no previous heart conditions, you should book an appointment for a cardiovascular physical exam every 2 to 4 years. Depending on your risk factors, you may need to go more frequently to follow up with your doctor and closely monitor your heart.

What to expect

Before any physical examination takes place, your doctor will ask you some questions about your medical history and lifestyle. You’ll be expected to answer questions regarding the following:

  • Your medical history including preexisting conditions and surgeries
  • Your family history of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and clotting abnormalities
  • Medications you’re currently using
  • Lifestyle factors like smoking, physical exercise, and diet
  • Recent lab test results, if available

Your cardiovascular physical exam consists of several parts. Your doctor will explain each part and make sure you understand the process and that you’re comfortable before the physical exam begins.

Physical examination

Your cardiovascular physical examination will start with your doctor inspecting different blood vessels in your body. He or she will examine your internal jugular vein in your neck. Distention of this vein can be a sign of heart disease. Afterwards, your doctor will measure your pulse. This is usually done by feeling the radial artery in the forearm or the dorsalis pedis artery in the foot.

Using the stethoscope, your doctor will listen to your heart sounds to detect any abnormalities that can reflect valve disease. In addition, he or she will measure your blood pressure and heart rate. An electrocardiogram test (EKG) will also be used to assess your heart rhythm.

Stress testing

Performed as part of our executive physical exam, stress testing is a method to evaluate how healthy your heart is. Cardiac stress testing is used to screen for coronary artery disease by monitoring how your heart works under physical stress. You will be running on a treadmill while hooked up to our cardiac stress machine which monitors your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and EKG during this period of physical activity.

Another type of stress testing performed at our Beverly Hills medical office is cardiopulmonary stress testing. During this test, you will also be running on a treadmill but this time the function of both your heart and lungs will be evaluated. In addition to blood pressure, heart rate, and other measurements of your heart activity, respiratory rate and gas exchange will also be measured.

Ultrasound testing

Our office is equipped with a state of the art ultrasound unit where you can get a closer look at your heart. Your doctor may request various ultrasound tests to examine the internal structure of your heart and blood vessels. The following cardiovascular ultrasound tests are performed at our office:

  • Echocardiogram – used to diagnose valvular stenosis (narrowing) or regurgitation (leakage)
  • Doppler ultrasound – used to diagnose deep vein thrombosis (clot) and arterial stenosis
  • Aortic ultrasound – used to diagnose aortic aneurysm
  • Carotid ultrasound – used to diagnose arterial stenosis and atherosclerosis (buildup of plaques in your blood vessels)

Heart health screenings

There are specific factors that contribute to your cardiovascular health. Measuring these values is used to screen for heart disease. A heart health screening is used to determine your risk to develop heart disease, it can be a lab blood test or a physical measurement. The following are important screenings included in your cardiovascular physical exam:

  • Body weight and BMI
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood glucose
  • Cholesterol
  • C-reactive protein (CRP)

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