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Your doctor may talk with you about your risk for heart and blood flow problems, including heart attack and stroke. You and your doctor can use your risk to decide whether you need to lower it and what treatment is best for you.

What might you be at risk for?

Your doctor is checking your risk of having a problem called atherosclerosis camera.gif, or hardening of the arteries. It is the starting point for most heart and blood flow problems. These include heart disease and peripheral arterial disease.

Your doctor might talk to you about your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke in the next 10 years.

How does your doctor check your risk?

Your doctor looks at things that put you at risk for a heart attack and stroke. Your doctor might check:

  • Your cholesterol levels.
  • Your blood pressure.
  • If you have diabetes.
  • Your age, sex, and race.
  • If you smoke.
  • If you have a family history of early heart disease. Early heart disease means you have a male family member who was diagnosed before age 55 or a female family member who was diagnosed before age 65.
  • Results of tests such as C-reactive protein, coronary calcium scan, or ankle-brachial index.

Calculators. Your doctor might use a tool to calculate a risk score for you. There are different tools that doctors use. These tools are not perfect. They may show that your risk is higher or lower than it really is. But these tools give you and your doctor a good idea about your risk.

What do you do with your risk?

Knowing your risk is just the starting point for you and your doctor. Knowing your risk can help you and your doctor talk about whether you need to lower your risk. Together, you can decide what treatment is best for you.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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