The physician examines your heart by determining the rhythm and frequency of the heart rate. A normal pulse lies between 60 and 100 heart beats per minute. An irregular heart rate is called "arrhythmia" and extra heart beats are "extra-systolic". Moreover, he checks the opening and closing functions of the heart valves with the stethoscope because the valves may have been damaged by scars (valve defects). Valve defects caused by scars can be detected by the abnormal sounds they make. However, it is impossible to detect sure signs of coronary sclerosis, impaired circulation to the heart muscle, or a previous heart attack by using a stethoscope. For this reason EKG's must be taken.
The next step in the physical examination is to listen to the lungs because the heart may be strained (decompensated) as in congestive heart failure and as a result of chronic bronchitis from cigarette smoking (with pulmonary emphysema caused by a loss of elasticity of the small air sacs—alveoli which are located at the end of the air tubes).
The general state of the cardio-vascular system may indicate the condition of your heart. Arteriosclerotic changes in the arteries of the body, for example, of the feet and ankles, may be determined by taking the pulse which, in the case of arteriosclerosis is very weak or absent. Listening to the abdominal aorta may reveal loud bruits, indicating atherosclerotic changes and severe thinning of the aortic walls, a so-called aneurysm.
The blood pressure reading is of particular importance. Moreover the correct relationship between height and weight is determined for the individual case. At the same time a blood sample is taken in order to obtain the cholesterol, triglyceride, blood sugar and uric acid levels.
Cardio & Blood