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Cardiac Risk Assessment

A close-up of a doctor using a model of the human heart to explain a cardiac risk assessment to a patient.

Look Into the Future with a Cardiac Risk Assessment in New Jersey

A cardiac risk assessment uses your personal health information to gauge your future risk of heart disease. It can help determine the likelihood of atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.

So why might you need one? A cardiac risk calculator can gauge your risk of developing high blood pressure and cholesterol, which is your starting point. However, there are several conditions increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease that you shouldn’t ignore. Some include hypertension, diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, high lipids, rheumatoid arthritis, influenza, mental health problems, and periodontitis.

If you can appropriately treat and lower your risk of heart problems, that’s good for your cardiovascular health. Taking preventative measures, monitoring the effectiveness of treatments, and making changes are key to a healthier lifestyle.


Measurements from a Cardiac Risk Assessment

So what does a cardiac risk assessment actually measure? An assessment takes your age, sex, race, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes status, smoking history, and medication usage into consideration. Some assessments may also analyze any family history of heart disease, especially if you’re younger than 60.

During a screening, you’ll be asked whether you are at risk for heart disease. These questions are based on your lifestyle, inquiring about smoking, obesity, poor diet, lack of exercise, and excessive alcohol consumption. Your blood will also be tested to measure cholesterol levels, blood sugar, and C-reactive protein levels. These protein levels are markers of inflammation throughout your body, which can be a risk factor for heart disease.

These risk factors, along with your age and gender, are taken into account when calculating your score. Doctors use a variety of risk calculators in their analysis.

Some patients may underestimate their cardiovascular disease risk, especially if their routine medicines cause high lipid levels. Another factor is whether your triglycerides are high, and whether they’re on blood pressure or cholesterol-lowering medications. If you’ve recently stopped smoking, that can impact your risk estimate as well.

Your score is a percentage. For instance, a score of 30 percent indicates a 30 percent chance of developing cardiovascular disease within the next decade. So, three out of 10 people with similar risk factors will develop cardiovascular disease within the next 10 years.

Individuals at lower risk typically measure less than 10 percent over the next 10 years. A moderate risk is usually 10 – 20 percent and may require you to make lifestyle modifications. Those with a high-risk score of greater than 20 percent may need to make more aggressive changes. A doctor may also recommend you start on a medication if you’re high risk.


The Right Assessment and Analysis Can Tell You a Lot

So who should get a cardiac risk assessment? Anyone can benefit, but it’s especially important for those having a family history of heart disease. As mentioned above, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity are also part of the equation.

If you’re 40 or older and a man, or 55 or older and a woman, an assessment can be helpful. If you smoke, it’s especially important. Your risk factors will determine how often you should get an assessment, as well as guidance from a qualified doctor.

Medical technology and demographic research has come a long ways in this area. A recently announced American Heart Association calculator can now estimate the 10- and 30-year risk of cardiovascular disease in patients. This is for people 30 years and older. It pinpoints your risk of heart attack, stroke, and, for the first time, heart failure. The assessment’s measurements are sex-specific and race-free, meaning race is not a biological risk factor. If needed, it also includes an index of social determinants’ impact on health.

This tool is the first risk calculator combining measurements of cardiovascular, kidney, and metabolic health to estimate heart disease risk. It uses health information from more than 6 million adults, including diverse racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic backgrounds.

“One in three adults has risk factors contributing to cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, or metabolic disorders,” the association’s announcement states. “As the underlying conditions of Cardiovascular Kidney Metabolic Syndrome worsen, the risk of heart attack, stroke, or heart failure increases.”


Diabetes and Cardiac Risk Assessment

People with diabetes have even more reason to look into getting a cardiac risk assessment. Type 1 or 2 Diabetes is oftentimes associated with cardiovascular disease. Sometimes a risk assessment isn’t needed. However, it may help you decide whether to take a medicine to reduce your cholesterol.

Even after controlling their blood sugar, individuals with Type 1 Diabetes have a higher risk of death from cardiovascular causes. This is, of course, compared to the general population, not the diabetes population. This risk is even higher with poorly controlled blood sugar. Additionally, atherosclerosis can start developing earlier in patients with Type 1 Diabetes. They may experience complications at a younger age than those without diabetes.

While high blood sugar is a major risk factor, a cardiac risk assessment helps identify and address other contributing factors. By identifying these additional factors, your pain management specialist can better tailor a comprehensive plan to reduce your overall risk. This could involve lifestyle changes, medications, and closer monitoring.

Your assessment helps narrow treatment strategies beyond blood sugar control. For example, it might highlight the need for more aggressive cholesterol management or early intervention. Managing cardiovascular risk factors can improve the health and wellbeing of those living with Type 1 Diabetes.

A study published by Cureus medical journal evaluates the prevalence of cardiovascular risks using an American Diabetes Association risk-assessment tool. It zeros-in on the 10-year risk for diabetes complications in young adults with Type 1 Diabetes.

The findings on heart health are insightful when comparing moderate-to-high risk versus low-risk young adults with Type 1 Diabetes. Overall: “Cardiovascular disease is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in individuals with Type 1 Diabetes,” the report says.


Modifiable Versus Non-Modifiable Risk Factors

If you’re considering cardiac risk assessment, you should also know about modifiable versus non-modifiable risk factors. There are things you can change for your heart’s health versus those you’re handed through your genes.

Non-modifiable risk factors include age, gender, and family history of cardiovascular disease. Modifiable risk factors include stress, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and an unhealthy diet.

Any plan will likely focus on modifiable risk factors. Your doctor will help you choose the health-conscious tools most appropriate for your situation. An assessment is valuable for helping you improve your health. Your feedback and measurements can be used to develop a plan to reduce your risks. If your risk is high, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes. These may include eating a healthier diet and exercising regularly.

Healthier eating means a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. It also means limiting unhealthy fats, processed foods, and added sugars.

When it comes to exercising, aim for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week, or a vigorous 75 minutes. If you’re overweight or obese, losing weight can also improve your heart situation.

Remember: a cardiac risk assessment can only estimate your risk of developing heart disease, nothing more or less. It’s ultimately up to you to make healthy changes in your life.


Wellness and Pain Can Help

Get a reputable cardiac risk assessment by visiting Wellness and Pain. We offer conservative treatments, routine visits, and minimally invasive quick-recovery procedures. We can keep you free of problems by providing lifestyle education and home care advice to help you avoid and manage issues, quickly relieving your inhibiting lifestyle conditions when complications arise.

At Wellness and Pain, we personalize patient care plans based on each patient’s condition and unique circumstances to improve wellness, increase mobility, relieve pain, and enhance your mental space and overall health.

What are you waiting for? Book an appointment today!

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Wellness and Pain accepts most major insurance plans. Here is a list of some of the major insurance plans we accept. If you do not see your insurance plan listed, please call our office to confirm.

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