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10.4: Personal Risk Assessment

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    What Is Your Number?

    The following screening tests are used to a assess a person’s risk for developing CVD

    • What: A blood test that measures total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol, HDL “good” cholesterol, and triglycerides (another form of fat in the blood). The test is given after a 9- to 12-hour fast.

      Why: To find out if you have any of the following: high blood cholesterol (high total and LDL cholesterol), low HDL cholesterol, or high triglyceride levels. All affect your risk for heart disease.

      When: All healthy adults should have a lipoprotein profile done at least once every 5 years. Depending on the results, your doctor may want to repeat the test more frequently.

    • Blood Pressure
      What: A simple, painless test using an inflatable arm cuff.

      Why: To find out if you have high blood pressure (also called hyper- tension) or prehypertension. Both are risk factors for heart disease.

      When: At least every 2 years, or more often if you have high blood pressure or prehypertension.


    • Fasting Plasma Glucose
      What: The preferred test for diagnosing diabetes. After you have fasted overnight, you will be given a blood test the following morning.

      Why: To find out if you have diabetes or are likely to develop the disease. Fasting plasma glucose levels of 126 mg/dL or higher in two tests on different days mean that you have diabetes. Levels between 100 and 125 mg/dL mean that you have an increased risk of developing diabetes and may have prediabetes. Diabetes is an important risk factor for heart disease and other medical disorders.

      When: At least every 3 years, beginning at age 45. If you have risk factors for diabetes, you should be tested at a younger age and more often.

    Online Risk Calculator

    If you know your cholesterol levels and your blood pressure, you can use one of the calculators linked below to assess your risk of developing cardiovascular disease:

    American College of Cardiology Risk Calculator

    Framingham Heart Study Risk Calculator

    This page titled 10.4: Personal Risk Assessment is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Flynn et al. (GALILEO Open Learning Materials) .

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