Cardiac Risk Assessment

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A cardiac risk assessment is a procedure that checks a person’s risk of having a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or stroke. They can also show the degree of risk. The test takes into consideration certain risk factors including:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Weight
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Blood pressure
  • Diet
  • Exercise, physical activity
  • Diabetes

Doctors may also use imaging tests alongside the cardiac risk assessment procedure to help them come up with a diagnosis or confirm the level of risk.

Why A Person May Need A Cardiac Risk Assessment

A person may undergo a cardiac assessment if their doctor suspects that they may be at risk for a cardiac episode and wants to confirm that risk before doing other testing or coming up with a treatment program to even such an episode. People who are at risk can be adults over 40 years old, or of any age with a family history of an early cardiovascular disease, or with a first-degree relative with a hereditary lipid disorder.

Preparing For A Cardiac Risk Assessment

Cardiac risk assessment tests may or may not require preparations. Some patients may be instructed to stop taking certain medications before the test as they can interfere with blood tests results and other aspects of the assessment. Patients may also be advised to skip meals the day before the test. If a doctor has a preference about preparations, they will inform the patient and even help them prepare.

During The Cardiac Risk Assessment

The cardiac risk assessment actually consists of several tests. The combined results of these tests determine the overall risk. The tests that make up the assessment include:

  • Health history records
  • Cholesterol tests
  • Blood sugar tests
  • Physical exam
  • Blood pressure test

Types of Cardiac Risk Assessment Tests

There are two different types of risk assessment tests used to determine a patient’s risk for a heart attack or stroke. They are very similar but are used for different types of patients.

Reynold’s Risk Score

The Reynold’s Risk Score is a test that is used for men and women who have diabetes. It takes into consideration the patient’s age, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, high sensitivity C-reactive protein levels and genetic risk to come up with a score. The score predicts the person’s 10-year risk of suffering from a heart attack.

ACC/AHA Cardiovascular Risk Calculator

This test takes into consideration a person’s overall health and can be used to predict the risk of both men and women. It is based on a person’s smoking habits, cholesterol levels, BMI, blood pressure and diabetes status. It is not for anyone who has already had a heart attack or stroke. It can only predict the risk for patients between the ages of 40 and 79 years old.

Cardiac Risk Assessment Results

Cardiac risk assessment procedures not only show doctors if there is a risk but can also tell them the level of that risk. The information can help doctors determine if there is an underlying cause for the test results and help them come up with a way to treat the problem and help the patient avoid a cardiac episode. The results are offered in the following ways:

  • High risk: a 20 percent or more score. This is a 2 in 10 chance of developing a cardiovascular disease within the following ten years.
  • Moderate risk: a 10-20 percent score. This is between a 1 in 10 and 2 in 10 chance.
  • Low risk: a less than 10 percent score. This is less than a 1 in 10 chance.