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Cardiology

Northway Medical Centres offer consultations for adults and children conducted by highly skilled cardiologists. Our team of experienced specialists prescribes and performs necessary examinations, providing patients with prompt and accurate diagnoses of cardiovascular disorders, as well as offering the most effective treatments. Additionally, cardiologists can provide valuable recommendations on disease prevention.

Cardiology is a medical branch that focuses on disorders of the heart and the cardiovascular system, which includes the heart, blood vessels, and blood. This intricate system is responsible for distributing nutrients and oxygen, as well as removing waste from our bodies.

A cardiologist is trained to diagnose and treat congenital and hereditary heart diseases, cardiac arrhythmias, and heart failure. They also provide advice on preventing cardiac diseases. It is recommended to visit a cardiologist and undergo the necessary tests at least once a year, even if you don’t have any complaints or known health disorders. Regular health check-ups can help identify cardiovascular diseases at early stages and prevent their progression in the future.

The most common diseases and their symptoms

There are various types of cardiovascular diseases, including congenital and hereditary conditions, each with their own distinct symptoms. It has been established that cardiovascular disease is caused by a combination of multiple risk factors that can have negative personal or environmental impacts. The primary risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes mellitus, excessive alcohol consumption, and stress. Genetic predisposition also plays a significant role in the development of cardiovascular diseases.

While cardiovascular diseases predominantly affect older individuals, it is currently observed that the incidence of coronary artery disease and other forms of CVD is increasing among young people. Men aged 45 and above face a higher risk of developing CVD, while women are at increased risk after the age of 55 or during menopause. Disturbingly, the statistics reveal that cardiovascular diseases account for 56% of deaths in our country.

Due to the lack of regular blood pressure checks, there has been a concerning rise in the incidence of hypertension. Research data indicates that over half of individuals aged 50 and above in Lithuania have high blood pressure. While hypertension is commonly associated with older adults, it can also affect younger individuals. Surprisingly, approximately 50% of adults with hypertension are unaware that they have the condition. It is not uncommon for people to be asymptomatic, despite hypertension being a serious health issue. Therefore, blood pressure screenings are crucial in detecting early stages of hypertension, even in the absence of noticeable symptoms. Timely diagnosis and treatment of elevated blood pressure can be vital as uncontrolled hypertension may lead to life-threatening events.

Hypertension serves as a significant risk factor for severe conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases, which are the leading causes of death in our country. Unfortunately, individuals often remain unaware of their high blood pressure due to its asymptomatic nature, resulting in untreated hypertension that progressively damages blood vessels, ultimately leading to the aforementioned complications like heart attacks, strokes, cardiac arrhythmias, and kidney damage.

Atherosclerosis is another insidious disease. It is characterized by the systemic deterioration of blood vessel walls, often progressing silently and without noticeable symptoms. It primarily affects vital arteries responsible for supplying oxygen and nutrients to the body’s tissues.

Several risk factors contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, including high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, elevated levels of “bad” cholesterol and low levels of “good” cholesterol in the bloodstream, smoking, obesity, lack of physical activity, advancing age, male gender (with a higher prevalence), and genetic predisposition.

The gradual hardening and narrowing of arteries, caused by the accumulation of plaque, often go undetected. These atherosclerotic plaques predominantly form within the coronary arteries that nourish the heart muscle. Typically, they develop over many years without presenting any symptoms. However, exacerbations of the disease are commonly triggered by the formation of a blood clot (thrombus) at the rupture site of an atherosclerotic plaque, leading to a disruption in blood flow. This occurrence is known as atherothrombosis. While atherosclerosis may evolve over decades, a blood clot can form within minutes, giving rise to life-threatening complications such as myocardial infarction (heart attack), paralysis, stroke, and aortic dilatation (aortic root aneurysm), among others.

One of the primary conditions caused by atherosclerosis is the damage to the coronary arteries, leading to the development of complications known as coronary heart disease. In this condition, the arteries that supply blood to the heart become narrowed, resulting in atherosclerotic changes. This can give rise to chest pain, known as angina pectoris, and even myocardial infarction (heart attack). The most typical symptom of heart disease is pain in the chest area, behind the breastbone (sternum), which is usually experienced during intense physical activity or emotional stress. The pain may also radiate to the left arm, lower jaw, or stomach region, and it may subside or disappear after resting. These episodes are referred to as angina pectoris or stenocardia. In some cases, such pain may occur even at rest, particularly in the early morning. Prolonged chest pain accompanied by weakness, cold sweat, anxiety, nausea, and dizziness are warning signs of an impending heart attack.

However, some individuals may experience no symptoms at all, remaining unaware of the presence of this insidious disease. Additionally, there are instances where atypical signs of heart disease manifest, including unexplained weakness or fatigue, unusual nervousness or anxiety, indigestion or a sense of fullness, heaviness in the chest or under the breastbone, pain between the shoulder blades, or discomfort in the neck, jaw, or stomach area. Consequently, many people delay seeking medical attention and treatment, resulting in irreversible damage to the heart muscle and even sudden death.

At Northway Medical Centre, our cardiologists emphasize the significance of regular preventive cardiac examinations to diagnose cardiovascular diseases in a timely manner and prevent their progression and life-threatening complications. Starting from the age of 40, individuals are advised to undergo annual lipid panel tests, electrocardiograms, and other necessary assessments. Medical specialists also highlight that modifying risk factors is a key preventive measure against cardiovascular diseases.

By prioritizing timely health checks and taking care of your well-being, you can effectively prevent the development of dangerous conditions such as coronary (ischemic) heart disease, stroke, and myocardial infarction, thereby extending your life expectancy. While age, gender, and genetic predisposition are uncontrollable risk factors, we can still mitigate their impact on our health by modifying unhealthy habits and preventing the onset of the disease through lifestyle changes. Many of the risk factors are associated with an unhealthy lifestyle, including poor dietary choices, lack of physical activity, detrimental habits, chronic stress, and an inability to relax. Some risk factors, such as high blood pressure, abnormal lipid levels, diabetes, and coagulation factors, can only be detected through laboratory or instrumental techniques.

Our highly skilled cardiologists conduct the necessary tests and, based on the results, provide individuals at risk with valuable recommendations regarding lifestyle, diet, and other habits. Certain risk factors can be addressed through personal efforts, while others, such as diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia (abnormal cholesterol and blood lipid levels), may require medication.

For individuals with congenital heart defects or acquired heart diseases (such as valve disease, coronary artery disease, and pericardial disease), surgical intervention may be necessary. Common surgical procedures include coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG, or heart bypass surgery), repair or replacement of heart valves or aortic valves, and correction of acquired heart diseases.

When should you see a cardiologist

Symptoms that suggest you may need to see a cardiologist include elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and shortness of breath. Your doctor will perform the necessary tests, identify the cause of these symptoms, prescribe the necessary treatment, and advise you on the preventive measures. Unfortunately, shortness of breath is often considered a symptom of cold-related diseases, which is why people leave it untreated and heart diseases become chronic.

Regular health checks with a cardiologist and preventive cardiac examinations are particularly important for people who are in good health but have at least one minor risk factor (smoking, high blood pressure, overweight or obesity, genetic predisposition). It is recommended that all adults over the age of 40 undergo preventive cardiac examinations and tests.

What types of examinations does a cardiologist perform

Given that atherosclerosis is not solely caused by elevated cholesterol levels but also by high levels of triglycerides, a lipid panel (profile) is routinely recommended as the initial step. The lipid panel assesses the total cholesterol level, encompassing the following lipids: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, commonly referred to as ‘bad’ cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, known as ‘good’ cholesterol, and triglycerides.

If the test results, along with the individual’s family history, indicate a potential heightened risk of cardiovascular disease, especially in individuals aged 40 and above, it is advisable to undergo more comprehensive cardiac examinations. These may include an electrocardiogram, cardiac echocardiogram, cardiac stress test, and assessment of blood glucose levels, in order to gain further insight into cardiac health.

The most common examinations

The most common blood tests prescribed for early detection of cardiovascular disorders:  

  • A lipid panel measures the total cholesterol, the level of ‘good and bad cholesterol’, and triglycerides in the blood. It helps to evaluate the cholesterol ratio, diagnose atherosclerosis in time, and prevent it from developing.
  • A high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) is used to detect inflammation in blood vessels and provide effective management for atherosclerosis.  This test can help predict the risk of developing infarction or stroke even in the case when the cholesterol ratio is within normal limits. 
  • A glucose test measures average blood sugar levels, which can help find out if you are at risk of having diabetes or developing a cardiovascular disease. 
  • A BNP test or an NT-proBNP test detects acute or chronic heart failure and allows to monitor the efficacy of the prescribed treatment for heart failure.
Doctors

Dr. ArvydasBARANAUSKAS

Cardiologist
  • lt , en , ru
  • Vilnius, S. Žukausko str. 19

Dr. PovilasBUDRYS

Cardiologist
  • lt , en
  • Vilnius, S. Žukausko g. 19

SigitasČĖSNA

Cardiologist
  • lt , en , ru
  • Vilnius, S. Žukausko str. 19

Dr. ŽivilėKATLIORIENĖ

Cardiologist, Pediatric Cardiologist
  • lt , en , ru
  • Vilnius, S. Žukausko str. 19

Dr. MildaKOVAITĖ

Cardiologist
  • lt , en , ru
  • Vilnius, S. Žukausko str. 19

RomualdasMAČIŪNAS

Cardiologist
  • lt , en , ru
  • Klaipėda, Naujoji Uosto str. 9
  • Klaipėda, Dragūnų str. 2

Dr. RasaORDIENĖ

Cardiologist
  • lt , en
  • Kaunas, Miško g. 25A

AurelijaPUKIENĖ

Pediatric Cardiologists, Pediatrician
  • lt , en , ru
  • Klaipėda, Naujoji Uosto g. 9

EgidijaRINKŪNIENĖ

Cardiologist
  • lt , en , ru
  • Vilnius, S. Žukausko str. 19
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