Heart disease is often a silent killer. Sometimes the first symptom is a heart attack or stroke. Even for people who appear to do everything right, heart disease may be unavoidable. The Open Hearts Project was started by a photographer from Seattle, Washington, who thought heart disease is something that happens to other people who don’t have a healthy lifestyle. So, he was shocked to learn that he required open heart surgery. As he recovered, he thought he would photograph other survivors of open heart surgery in hopes of raising awareness about this silent killer. As he began the project, he was taken back by how different each of the survivor’s stories were, and so he decided to tell their stories, along with posting their photographs. The ultimate mission of The Open Hearts Project is to raise awareness about heart disease. In addition to the survivor’s stories, videos and articles have been added and are routinely updated, all geared toward providing the visitors to this site with an increased understanding about this nation’s number one killer.
Health care providers have a number of tools they can use to determine an individual’s risk factors. They can listen to your heart to see if there is a murmur. They can perform an ECG, a Stress-Echo Test, check pulse rates, take blood pressures and run a variety of blood tests to measure your lipids, triglycerides and cholesterol. Today, they can even do a coronary calcium scan to determine how much, calcium, if any, someone has in your coronary arteries. With that stated, do you know your coronary calcium score? Technology is changing everything. Apple and other watch manufacturers are blazing the trails to introduce watches and monitoring devices all with the goal of identifying people who may be at risk of having a cardiovascular event.
Once it has been determined that a person has heart disease, then a treatment plan can be developed. Each person has to be evaluated based on their test results. Today there are a wide range of treatment options available. For some, it may be a simple as taking a statin and beginning an exercise program to improve their cholesterol. Others might need medication to lower their blood pressure. Those with diabetes require extra care. For individuals who require more than medical management, stents may be necessary. And for the most seriously diseased arteries, coronary artery bypass grafts or CABG are often used. An early diagnosis is extremely beneficial. If heart disease is found early, it can mean the difference between taking a statin and having a CABG.