If you're concerned about your heart health or if you have a family history of heart disease, your doctor might recommend cardiac risk assessment testing. You can have these tests whether you currently have symptoms of heart disease or not, but the tests the doctor orders may be different when they suspect you might be at a higher risk of heart disease or if you have symptoms. Here are some things that might be included in your assessment.
Your Medical History
A basic cardiac risk assessment starts with your family history since your risk may be higher if you've had close family members with heart disease. Your doctor can take things like your age, family history, blood pressure reading, weight, blood test results, smoking history, and medical conditions, such as diabetes, and calculate your ten-year risk of developing heart disease. This is helpful information to know so you can make lifestyle adjustments or begin medical treatments that might lower your risk or at least keep your risk from increasing.
Your doctor may also order lab tests that help predict your risk of heart disease. Cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose, and C-reactive protein are some basic things a blood test will test for that can be entered into cardiac risk assessment calculators to determine a 10-year risk of developing heart disease. If you have a family history of heart disease, your doctor might also want to order genetic testing to see if you have genetic markers that put you at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
If you're having symptoms of cardiac disease or if you have high blood pressure or diabetes, your doctor might order tests that provide a more comprehensive look at the condition of your cardiovascular system. These tests include an electrocardiogram, stress testing, perfusion imaging, calcium scoring, CT scans, or an MRI. These tests show blockages, abnormalities, and rhythm disturbances that put you at a higher risk of a heart attack or stroke.
If you don't have any symptoms of heart disease or family history, your doctor can do a simple cardiac risk assessment using your medical history and basic lab tests. This gives you an idea of your risk of a stroke or heart attack over the next ten years. If you're at a higher risk, your doctor may recommend changes, such as improving your diet, losing weight, and getting more exercise so your risk is lowered and so you can avoid developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and other conditions that increase your risk of heart disease.
Reach out to a professional to request a cardiac risk assessment.