Key Points about Heart Health Screenings
- A heart health screening can help you better understand your risk for heart disease and can help you better manage any heart disease you currently have.
- Heart health screenings are personalized, based on your personal and family health history
- A doctor will use results from a heart health screening to develop a care plan and schedule for future heart health screenings.
Many people don’t have any symptoms before having a heart attack or stroke. But, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk. You can also take simple steps to improve your heart health and manage any current heart condition.
Heart health screenings are one important step. Screenings can detect problems before your symptoms appear. Depending on your personal and family health history, your doctor may recommend having a heart health screening every year, every five years, or at some other frequency.
Candidates for heart health screenings
There are basic and advanced screening tests. Basic screening tests are for those without any symptoms or risk factors. Advanced screenings are for those with heart disease, have a family history of a heart condition or have personal risk factors for heart disease.
Risks associated with heart health screenings
There are no known risks for heart health screenings.
Preparing for heart health screenings
If you are undergoing any blood tests as part of your heart health screening, you may need to fast (avoid eating and drinking) for several hours before the test. Your doctor will provide you with details specific to your test.
Expectations from heart health screenings
Depending on your overall health and cardiovascular risk factors, your doctor may recommend you undergo some combination of the following tests as part of your heart health screening:
- Abdominal aortic screening – imaging to look for an aneurysm
- Blood glucose (sugar) level
- Blood pressure and heart rate test
- Body weight, body mass index (BMI) calculation and waist circumference
- Carotid artery screening – imaging to look for plaques that can cause a stroke
- Discussions about diet and physical activity level
- Echocardiogram – imaging of the heart valves and chambers to check the pumping function of your heart
- Fasting lipoprotein profile, or cholesterol blood test
- Peripheral arterial disease screening – a test to look for peripheral arterial disease that checks for any blockages in the arteries of your legs
Conditions that may need heart health screenings
You may need a heart health screening if you have:
- A family history of cardiovascular disease
- Atrial fibrillation
- Heart failure
- Heart attack
- Other heart conditions
When to seek care
If you think you may need a heart health screening, start by voicing your concerns and symptoms to your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing a cardiologist for more specialized treatment.