Know your heart, control your risk for heart disease

If you had to guess what your chances are of having a heart attack within the next 10 years, what would your guess be? Would you even have a guess? If you did, why would you pick those odds?

That’s the trouble with hearts – you can’t tell what’s going on in there! If you’ve had heart troubles, hopefully you already have a cardiologist helping you with your heart health. But what if you haven’t had any heart issues?

How do you know if your heart is really healthy or not, before it’s too late?

OSF HealthCare Cardiovascular Institute can help.

Know the score

man getting blood pressure checked by female health care provider

The 10-year risk score, officially known as the atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk estimate, is a way for people without current heart issues to know where they stand when it comes to heart health. That knowledge can help you reduce your risk or keep it low.

You can schedule a one-time consultation with an OSF Cardiovascular Institute cardiologist, who will examine your blood pressure, cholesterol and health history to come up with your risk score. Basically, they will tell you what your chances are of having a cardiac event, like a heart attack, within 10 years.

“It never hurts to get information,” said Timir Baman, MD, a cardiologist with OSF Cardiovascular Institute. “At least know where you stand, and at least know, are there things that you can consider to reduce that risk?”

To get started, all you need is a simple blood test, called a lipid panel. Cardiologists then examine your “good” cholesterol (HDL) and “bad” cholesterol (LDL), along with your blood pressure and clinical history. According to Dr. Baman, it all boils down to prevention.

Prevention for peace of mind

man giving a high give to a child outdoors.

“Prevention is the key,” he said. “It is so much better for the community if we can identify patients who are at above average risk and try and reduce that risk, rather than waiting for that heart attack, waiting for that hospitalization or that stent and then having to deal with the repercussions thereafter.”

After the analysis, you and the cardiologist can discuss heart disease prevention methods. If you have an above-average risk of a heart event, you may be prescribed a cholesterol-lowering drug called a statin. Or you may receive assistance with other lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking or losing weight through diet and exercise.

If you have a moderate risk, you may also receive a coronary CT scan, which is a quick test to determine if you have early blockages in your arteries. You and the cardiologist can then make a plan to prevent those blockages from progressing.

So, how well do you really know your heart?

Lower your chances of a heart attack by knowing where you stand when it comes to heart health. For more information or to schedule an appointment for a 10-year heart disease risk score, call (800) 352-4410.

About Author: Ken Harris

Ken Harris is a writing coordinator for the Marketing & Communications division of OSF HealthCare.

He has a bachelor's in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked as a daily newspaper reporter for four years before leaving the field and eventually finding his way to OSF HealthCare.

In his free time, Ken likes reading, fly fishing, hanging out with his dog and generally pestering his lovely, patient wife.

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Categories: Heart Health