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Interactive Tool: Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack? - What does this tool measure?


Click here to find your risk of a heart attack calculator.gif in the next 10 years.

Use this tool if you:

If you have diabetes or heart disease, your doctor can help you find out your risk for a heart attack.

This tool is one way to find your risk of having a heart attack. This tool is a common one that doctors use. But your doctor might find your risk using a different, but similar, method. All of these methods, including this tool, are based on your risk factors for heart disease. Some methods include risk factors that are not used in this tool (such as diabetes and family history). Methods used to calculate your heart attack risk are not perfect. But they give you and your doctor a good idea about your risk. And they can help you decide if you should take steps to prevent a heart attack.

Before you use this tool, you need to know your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. You will also answer questions about important risk factors for heart disease. These risk factors are:

  • Age and gender. The number of people affected by heart disease increases with age in men after age 45 and in women after age 55.
  • Smoker. Select "Yes" if you have smoked any cigarettes in the past month. Quitting smoking may be the most important step you can take to reduce your risk.
  • 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.
  • Blood pressure medicine. Medicines used to treat high blood pressure include diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and direct renin inhibitors. Enter "Yes" if you take one of these medicines.
  • HDL cholesterol. HDL, or high-density lipoprotein, is the "good" cholesterol because it helps prevent cholesterol from building up in your arteries. The higher your HDL, the better.
  • 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.

This tool is based on information from the Framingham Heart Study. Since 1948 the Framingham Heart Study has studied the progression of heart disease and its risk factors. The data from this study has been used to make a risk assessment. This risk assessment was created by the U.S. National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP), part of the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: May 20, 2013
    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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