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Learning About Screening for Heart Attack and Stroke Risk

Normal artery and blood flow and an artery narrowed by atherosclerosis

What is screening for heart attack and stroke risk?

Screening for heart attack and stroke risk is a way for your doctor to check your chance of having a problem called atherosclerosis. This problem is also called hardening of the arteries. It is the starting point for most heart and blood flow problems, such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, stroke, and peripheral arterial disease.

You and your doctor can use your risk score to decide if you want to take steps to lower your risk.

How can you find out your risk?

Your doctor looks at things that put you at risk for a heart attack and stroke. He or she might look at many things, such as:

  • Your cholesterol levels.
  • Your blood pressure.
  • Your age.
  • Your race.
  • Whether you are male or female.
  • Whether or not you smoke.

Your doctor might use a tool to calculate a risk score for you. There are different tools that doctors use. They may show that your risk is higher or lower than it really is. But the tools give you and your doctor a good idea about your risk.

What happens after screening?

Knowing your risk can help you and your doctor talk about whether to take steps to lower your risk.

A heart-healthy lifestyle is important for everyone. Some people also take medicine to lower their risk. You and your doctor can work together to decide what is best for you.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.