Your Heart Risk Assessment -- February 28, 2011 -- Dr. Reginald - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Your Heart Risk Assessment -- February 28, 2011 -- Dr. Reginald Dickerson and Dr. Phillip Wines

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Topic: Your Heart Risk Assessment
Reginald Dickerson, MD: cardiologist
Phillip Wines, MD: cardiologist
SAINT THOMAS HEART

Monday, February 28, 2011
news notes via www.webmd.com 

Do you know how these controllable risk factors affect your risk of heart disease?

  • smoking
  • high blood pressure
  • high blood cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • being overweight or obese
  • physical inactivity

It's essential that you measure your risk of heart disease and make a plan for how to prevent it in the near future.

Heart Disease Risk Assessment

 

This risk assessment tool, commonly used by cardiologists and other physicians, can help predict your risk of developing a heart attack or dying from coronary disease in the next 10 years.  This tool is designed for people aged 20 years and older without known heart disease and who do not have diabetes.

The Heart Disease Risk Assessment Tool is based on findings from a major research project called the "Framingham Heart Study," in which three generations of men and women from Framingham, Massachusetts were evaluated to better understand the causes of cardiovascular disease.  The score takes your personal risk factors into consideration and tells you what your chances are for having heart attack or dying in the next 10 years.  A risk score of 10% means that 10 out of 100 people in that risk category will have a heart attack or die within 10 years.  The lower your score, the better.

This tool is only useful for assessing the risk of suffering a heart attack or dying due to coronary disease for people age 20 or older who do not already have heart disease and have not been diagnosed with diabetes.  Here are some explanations on the data used in the risk assessment tool, and pointers for entering your data:

Total Cholesterol:  Total cholesterol is the sum of all the cholesterol in your blood. The higher your total cholesterol, the greater your risk for heart disease.  In general, here are the total cholesterol values that matter to you:

  • Less than 200 mg/dL – Desirable level that puts you at lower risk for heart disease.  A cholesterol level of 200 mg/dL or greater increases your risk.
  • 200 to 239 mg/dL – Borderline-high
  • 240 mg/dL and above – High blood cholesterol.  A person with this level has more than twice the risk of heart disease compared to someone whose cholesterol is below 200 mg/dL.

High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) Cholesterol:  The "good" cholesterol. HDL carries cholesterol in the blood from other parts of the body back to the liver, which leads to its removal from the body. So HDL helps keep cholesterol from building up in the walls of the arteries. Here are the HDL Cholesterol levels that matter to you:

  • Less than 40 mg/dL is considered low.  A major risk factor for heart disease.
  • 40 to 59 mg/dL is considered normal.  The higher your HDL, the better.
  • 60 mg/dL and above is excellent.  An HDL of 60 mg/dL and above is considered protective against heart disease.

Systolic blood pressure:  Systolic blood pressure is the first number of your blood pressure reading. For example, if your reading is 120/80 (120 over 80), your systolic blood pressure is 120.

Diastolic blood pressure:  Diastolic blood pressure is the second number of your blood pressure reading. For example, if your reading is 120/80 (120 over 80), your diastolic blood pressure is 80.

Smoker:  Select "Yes" if you have smoked any cigarettes in the past month.

What The Results Mean

You should interpret your risk score in consultation with your cardiologist.  In general, the following risk categories are based on guidelines established by the National Cholesterol Education Program.

Risk Score Greater Than 20%:  Highest risk range, with a greater than 20% risk that you will develop a heart attack or die from coronary disease in the next 10 years. This risk can be reduced by addressing and managing your risk factors with the help of your cardiologist.

Risk Score between 10% – 20%:  Intermediate risk range, with a 10 to 20% risk that you will develop a heart attack or die from coronary disease in the next 10 years. This risk can be reduced by addressing and managing your risk factors with the help of your cardiologist.

Risk Score Less Than 10%:  Low risk range, with less than 10% risk that you will develop a heart attack or die from coronary disease in the next 10 years. Continue to manage your risk factors and visit your doctor regularly to assess your risk. Important Note: The presence of any cardiovascular disease risk factor, including a family history of cardiovascular disease, requires appropriate attention because a single risk factor may mean that you have a high risk for developing cardiovascular disease in the long run, even if the 10-year risk does not appear to be high.

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