4 Essential Heart Tests For A Longer Life

    Duration: 5 minutes

    Why It’s Heart Smart:

    Cholesterol plaque injures blood vessels, triggering inflammation and raising CRP levels in your blood. That’s dangerous because people with high levels of CRP may be up to 4 times more likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. A high CRP is most dangerous if you also have another risk factor: a waist circumference of more than 35 inches, indicating the presence of belly fat.

    What the Results Mean:

    If your score is under 1.0 mg per liter, your risk of developing heart disease is low. A score between 1.0 and 3.0 mg/l equals average risk. Above 3.0 mg/l, you’re at high risk. It’s possible to have high CRP without heart disease, though, because infections and injuries can also trigger a spike in levels.

    MORE HEALTH ISSUES: 7 Foods That Will Raise Your Cholesterol Level

    3. Advanced Lipid Profile and Lipoprotein(a) Test

    How It Works: Unlike the traditional cholesterol blood test, which measures total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, and triglycerides, the advanced test also looks at particle size. This is important because some particles are big and fluffy, so they tend to bounce off artery walls as they travel through the body. Others are small and dense, meaning they can penetrate the artery lining and form clumps of plaque. (Think beach balls versus bullets.) The Lp(a) blood test analyzes a specific type of cholesterol that can triple heart risk.

    Cost: $19

    Duration: 5 minutes

    Why It’s Heart Smart: Sizing up your particles gives a clearer picture of heart risk than the conventional test: Having a lot of large particles cuts risk, while small ones raise it. The more Lp(a) you have, the worse it is, too–it makes LDL particles extrasticky, so they cling to the lining of blood vessels, causing plaque and clots.
     
    Get It If:

    You have a family history of heart disease.

    What the Results Mean: You do not want more than 15% of your particles to be the small, dense type. For Lp(a), levels above 30 mg/dl put you at increased risk.

    4. A1C Blood Glucose Test

    How It Works: A blood test indicates your average level of blood sugar over the prior 3 months. Unlike other glucose tests that require fasting or drinking a sugary beverage, this test requires neither.

    Cost: $50

    Duration: 5 minutes

    Why It’s Heart Smart: This is the simplest way to detect your future risk of diabetes. This disease puts you at 5 times higher risk of developing heart disease–yet 5.7 million Americans have undiagnosed diabetes (on top of the 17.9 million who are diagnosed) because they haven’t had their blood sugar checked.

    Get It if: You’re 45 or older–or earlier if you’re overweight and have one or more diabetes risk factors, such as family history, high triglycerides, or low HDL.

    What the Results Mean: An A1C level between 4.5 and 6% is normal, between 6 and 6.4% indicates prediabetes, and 6.5% or higher on two separate tests means you have diabetes.

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