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Sandy asked...

Tags: heart

I am a 38 year old man, smoker (about 3 a day), average drinker, no drugs. Try and excercise and eat well but have the odd bit of fast food. I have a family history of diabetes and heart disease and on checking my cholestorol was found to be 6.2. Because of this and headaches I was getting I was put on statins and irbesartan. My current cholestorol reading is 4.8 and average blood pressure so the medication is working fine. I currently dont have chest pains ! My question is.. if I dont want to wait until I develop severe chest pains to have an angiogram to show how bad my arteries are, can I ask my GP or even AXA PPP to have one? I know they are expensive but I'd really rather know sooner than later.

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The Answer

It is not advisable to have an angiogram without preceding chest pains because of the unnecessary risk of the procedure that you would be put through (artery damage, bleeding, infection etc.). There are other less invasive tests that could be considered (such as an exercise ECG) that may show up some heart strain but generally these tests are only useful if heart disease is already suspected. Whatever tests are done, the outcome will only be the same; you need to take these medications daily to prevent heart disease developing in the future. You could stop smoking completely and this would be the single most effective thing you can do now to protect your heart from future damage (no angiogram results are needed to prove that stopping smoking could possibly save your life).

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