Cardiovascular disease often remains undetected for a long time, until symptoms occur. Regular check-ups will allow you to become aware of your own individual risk factors. So come for a regular check-up before it is too late!
Regular blood pressure check-ups and correct adjustment, if necessary, are important factors for well-being and health.
The most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease are increased blood fats, Diabetes mellitus, increased blood pressure, smoking, excess weight and lack of exercise. These risk factors are easy to recognise and treat by means of a medical examination.
Everyone should be aware of his or her personal risk factors for cardiovascular disease!
Areas of Specialisation
Hypertension (increased blood pressure) is an insidious disease and is the no. 1 risk factor for cardiovascular disease. High blood pressure is one of the main risk factors for stroke, cardiac insufficiency, heart attacks and cardiac arrhythmia. Some 20-30 million people in Germany suffer from increased blood pressure, and of those over 55, on average every second adult is affected. Nowadays 4 out of 5 people know that they have a problem with their blood pressure, but fewer than one-third follow their doctor’s advice (regular blood-pressure checks, medication, change of lifestyle) and thus manage to normalise these values. People who are aware of the damage to health that increased blood pressure can cause will understand the necessity for treatment.
Coronary Heart Disease
The left and right coronary arteries supply the heart muscle with oxygen and nutrients. The narrowing of a coronary artery as a result of arteriosclerosis initially produces symptoms only under physical exertion, however, if the artery is partially occluded (stenosis) a painful tightness or pressure in the upper chest or behind the breastbone (angina pectoris) may also occur at rest. If a coronary artery becomes completely occluded, part of the heart-muscle tissue will die (heart attack). Prompt diagnosis of a disease of the coronary arteries is a particular challenge in order to prevent a heart attack. Fortunately, however, chest pain is not always the result of arteriosclerosis.
Is it harmless or does it need treatment? Many people experience cardiac arrhythmia, for the first time, in the form of missing a heartbeat, palpitations or continuing irregularities of the pulse. These should all be taken as warning signs. However, cardiac arrhythmias can occur in virtually every form of cardiac disease and, sometimes, even in people whose hearts are quite healthy.
Cardiac insufficiency (Heart Failure) is one of the most frequent causes of hospitalisation and death. Poorly regulated high blood pressure, heart attack, heart-valve defects and myocarditis are the typical diseases which initially damage the heart muscle thus affecting its ability to pump the blood sufficiently. If it is not treated prior to symptoms occuring such as, for example, shortness of breath and fluid retention in tissue, there is a danger that the cardiac insufficiency will progress to such an extent that it leads to death within a few years. Echocardiography is the most effective way of diagnosing cardiac insufficiency.
Heart Valve Disease
The most common heart valve diseases are constriction of the aortic valve (aortic stenosis) and a leaking mitral valve (mitral insufficiency). The four heart valves permit the blood in the heart to flow in one direction only. Constriction (stenosis) of a heart valve or a leak (insufficiency) can lead over time to cardiac insufficiency as a result of pressure or volume overload. If the heart valve disease is serious, it will be necessary to replace the diseased valve with an artificial or biological heart valve. It is inserted during a heart operation or a catheter procedure. Nowadays, the diagnosis of cardiac valve disease is usually carried out without the use of a heart catheter by means of echocardiography.
The ECG (electrocardiogram) provides initially important information for a cardiological examination. A heart attack, cardiac muscle disease and cardiac arrhythmias can often be recognised from the typical changes in the heart’s electrical activity.
Cardiac Stress Test
A bicycle ergometer or treadmill is used to increase the load progressively while carrying out continuous ECG and blood pressure measurements. This provides the doctor with important information about physical performance, stress-related symptoms like shortness of breath or angina pectoris, and also heart frequency and blood pressure behaviour. The occurrence of cardiac arrhythmias or ECG changes can give an indication of impaired coronary circulation.
Many cardiac arrhythmias are not continuous, but occur by chance or suddenly. A continuous ECG recording over 24 hours or longer with a small recording device worn under the clothing will improve the accuracy of the diagnosis.
Echocardiography (cardiac ultrasound) is the most important cardiological examination in order to assess the function and structure of the heart muscle and the heart valves.
Stress echocardiography is a non-invasive ultrasound examination of the heart. It is carried out while you exercise on a stationary bike. Compared with a simple stress test it enables suspected impaired coronary circulation to be diagnosed with great accuracy. Stress echocardiography is also helpful in order to judge the severity of heart valve defects.
Cardiac Event Recorder
Cardiac arrhythmias do not always occur frequently enough to be registered during a long-term ECG. In such cases there is a better chance of actually recording less-frequent cardiac arrhythmias if a so-called event recorder is used. This can be supplied for several days or even weeks. The patient activates the device by pressing a button as soon as arrhythmias are felt.
Long-term Blood Pressure Monitoring
Automatic measurement of blood pressure at specific intervals using a blood pressure cuff on the upper arm. The device can be worn under your clothing. Diagnostic relevance: measurement of blood pressure under everyday conditions. Provides important information regarding the necessity for and efficacy of medication for the treatment of high blood pressure.
Pulse Wave Diagnostics
The determination of the speed of the pulse wave provides important information to enable an assessment of the status of the blood vessels (especially the rigidity of the blood vessels) in cases of high blood pressure.
Carotid Doppler Examination
The ultrasound examination of the major blood vessels of the neck (Carotid arteries) is particularly useful for the early diagnosis of arteriosclerosis. The examination is especially important for patients with risk factors such as high blood pressure, lipid metabolic disorder and diabetes.
Thyroid sonography (ultrasound examination) permits the determination of the size and volume of the thyroid. It serves in particular for the assessment of structural changes in the thyroid or the diagnosis of nodules. The high resolution of our ultrasound equipment permits changes of as little as 2 – 3 mm diameter to be clearly seen.
Like the ultrasound examination of the heart, in abdominal sonography an ultrasonic probe is positioned on the skin of the abdomen. The ultrasound waves produce a picture of various abdominal organs such as the liver, gall bladder, pancreas, spleen, kidneys and the main blood vessels.
When clarifying cardiac and vascular disease, the diameter and texture of the wall of the abdominal aorta are of particular interest.
Self-determination of INR
Patients who have to take anticoagulants (Marcumar) for the rest of their lives (e.g. patients with mechanical heart valves, chronic atrial fibrillation or a severe risk of thrombosis) have the possibility of determining their coagulation levels (international normalized ratio, INR) by monitoring the values at home. A blood sample from the tip of the finger can be checked using a testing strip. If you belong to this category of patients and would like to learn how to determine your INR yourself, you are entitled to reclaim the cost of a Coagu-Check device which is used to check the coagulation levels. We are a certified training centre for Coagu-Check devices and we carry out the training sessions prescribed by the health insurance companies by means of individual lessons.
Pulmonary Function Examination
Spirometry forms the basis of this test. The normal or abnormal function of the lungs as a result of disease can be determined while the patient carries out various breathing exercises under instruction.
Blood chemistry tests, as well as urine and stool tests and microbiological tests, are carried out in co-operation with a major clinical laboratory.
The treatment of cardiovascular disease is constantly changing to reflect medical progress. Our prime aim is to to establish a personal treatment plan for you which focuses equally on effectiveness and success.
Our motto is: We'll take time for you and your heart!
Pre- and Post-operative Management
Heart surgery, and of course any other surgery on a patient suffering from heart disease, must be very carefully prepared. This means that all additional illnesses which could influence the anaesthetic and post-operative progress are identified and brought under control. Even after a successful coronary bypass or heart-valve replacement surgery it can take weeks before the patient is fully recovered and feels fit and well. Regular cardiological post-operative examinations will give you confidence and provide you with advice on how to manage your own individual post-operative convalescence programme.
Further cardiological diagnostics and therapy (Coronar-CT-Angio, Cardio-MR, heart catheter, interventional therapy of cardiac arrhythmias etc.) are carried out in close cooperation with specialised centres.
Personal consultation combined with latest technology are at the heart of our work.