Know your heart

Susan Floer

Many of us here in GE Healthcare IT read the recent article by Dr. Atul Gawande’s in The New Yorker (May 11, 2015). It’s entitled, “Overkill. An avalanche of unnecessary medical care is harming patients physically and financially. What can we do about it?In reading the article, one can see the cause of unnecessary medical care from the physicians’ perspective, but for me it brought to mind the advice I used to share with my cardiology patients during my many years as a cardiology clinician and still today with my family and friends. The advice was simple, know your own heart.

Anyone, regardless of whether they were diagnosed with heart disease, that has had an ECG, blood pressure measurement or cholesterol check should ask for the results and keep them in your smartphone or wallet. It’s quite easy to take a picture of the ECG tracing and keep it in your phone, along with the physician interpretation. Most of us are used to keeping a list of medications, allergies and vitamins with us, but adding these few cardiac baseline metrics can be just as important because it is the change in those baseline measurements that can signal a potential cardiology event.

If you or your family members have previously been diagnosed with some type of heart disease, one should also include their ejection fraction and information from previous surgeries or interventions. If there was a coronary bypass or stent, which vessel or vessels were involved? If there was a valve repair or replacement, which valve and type of device was used and when?

Having access to these basic baseline measurements and information can not only reduce unnecessary duplicate tests in the event of an emergency or future cardiac event, but they can also save valuable time in your treatment or diagnosis. As a member of the healthcare IT community, we are constantly striving to provide solutions where all of this information can follow the patient, regardless of their location, but until that is a reality….know your heart!

Susan Floer, BS, RDCS

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