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Nov 2023

Testing for heart attack: Are you at risk?

Posted By Suborna Fermi Posted on Nov 25, 2023

Various heart disorders do not cause any symptoms, until serious complications arise, such as a heart attack. So how would you know whether you are at risk of developing a heart disease? The best possible way is to find out with certain diagnostic tests. Analyzing the levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, fibrinogen are crucial to find out your heart health.

How blood tests can help determine the risk of heart disease?

Only analyzing symptoms may not help in diagnosing heart disease, that is why doctors always order certain blood tests to look at cholesterol levels. For example, a high level of low-density lipoprotein indicates that you are at risk of heart disease. The test results will help doctors find out the best suitable treatment or care plan for your condition.

When should I go for a blood test to check for heart disease risk?

Your healthcare adviser may recommend you a blood test for heart disease, if you:

  • Are overweight
  • Have an unhealthy diet
  • Have a family history of heart disease
  • Do not exercise enough
  • Smoke tobacco
  • Have diabetes, or high blood pressure

What levels are checked to determine the risk of heart disease?

To assess your risk of heart disease, your doctor may pay attention to:

  • Triglycerides: Measuring triglycerides level is important to detect heart disease and heart vessel disease. Having a diet high in fat and carbohydrate, and too much alcohol consumption can cause high triglycerides levels.
  • Total cholesterol: Total cholesterol is directly associated with heart and blood vessel disease.
  • High-density lipoprotein: Measuring your HDL level is essential. High levels of “good cholesterol” or HDL decreases your risk of having heart and blood vessel disease.
  • Low-density lipoprotein: LDL is known as the “bad cholesterol”, and a high level of LDL can increase your risk of heart disease.
  • Complete blood count with differential: A complete blood count test is a necessary blood test that provides the information about your different blood components, such as red blood cells, white blood cells, hemoglobin, platelets, and others.

Apart from these, your doctor may order additional tests like fasting glucose, thyroid stimulating hormone, serum creatinine, high sensitivity CRP, and others depending on your family health history of heart disease.

How do I prepare for the blood test?

You might be required to fast for 10 to 12 hours before the blood test. Also, ask your doctor whether you need to stop taking any medications before the test, as some medicines can alter the test reports.

What does the test results mean?

Test results generally depend on various factors including your age, and risk factors. The following are the general interpretation of tests, assessing the risk of heart disorders.

  • Triglycerides: The normal range is below 150 mg/dL. Obesity and diabetes can cause high triglycerides levels. A very high triglycerides level may indicate pancreatitis.
  • Total cholesterol: The normal range of total cholesterol for 20 years or younger should be 75 to 169 mg/dL. The ideal total cholesterol range for 21 years or older people is between 150 to 199 mg/dL.
  • High-density lipoprotein: The higher the HDL levels are, the lower your risk of heart disease is. The ideal range of HDL levels may vary due to gender. The normal range of HDL for females should be higher than 55 mg/dL, and the range should be higher than 44 mg/dL for men.
  • Low-density lipoprotein: The ideal range for LDL depends on your current health status. The LDL level should be less than 70 mg/dL, If you have diabetes, or high risk of heart and blood vessel disease. If you have metabolic syndrome, then the level should be less than 100 mg/dL. If you have a low risk of heart disease then the LDL level should be lower than 130 mg/dL.

However, please make sure to consult with your doctor to understand what the test results mean for you.