This article originally appeared November 3, 2015 Princeton Nutrients Blog
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For decades the only tests available to detect heart disease where very crude. Sometimes they gave false positives and sometimes they showed that nothing was wrong even when there was an issue. In the past, a stress test was the most common test used to discover heart disease. That meant running on a treadmill for 45 minutes; panting and sweating until the doctor said you could stop. Unfortunately, this test didn’t give doctors enough information and often, gave bad information.
Today, thankfully, there are much more sophisticated tests with more accurate results. The following tests are available at most medical centers and hospitals. Are you at risk for heart disease? If your doctor isn’t taking your heart seriously enough, you have the right to request these 6 tests.
1. Cardiac Calcium Scoring
A CT scanner will check for calcified plaque in your coronary arteries. This test is the best predictor of a future heart attack. If you score 200 or higher, your doctor may suggest certain lifestyle changes. Cost: $99-$399
2. Carotid Intima Media Thickness Test
An ultrasound machine will be used on your neck. A picture will be taken of the carotid arteries, the arteries that supply blood to your brain, to measure the thickness of the carotid lining. The test will determine the ‘age’ of your lining. You are at risk if the lining is 8 or more years older than you are. Cost: $150-$500
3. High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein Test
A blood test will measure CRP, a protein in your blood that is an indicator of inflammation. A result of over 3 mg/L is very high and puts you at risk for heart disease. Injuries and illnesses trigger a spike in CRP, so unless you have had the same result 3 or more times, this test is not always an indicator of heart disease. Cost: $8
4. Advanced Lipid Profile
Another blood test, this one measures more than the HDL, LDL, and triglycerides levels in your blood to determine your risk of heart attack. The advanced test also determines the size of the particles in your blood stream. Large, fluffy particles are safe while small, dense ones can penetrate arteries and form clumps of plaque. Cost: $19
5. A1C Blood Glucose Test
This blood test looks at your blood sugar level for the last 3 months. It is the simplest way to detect the risk of diabetes. Diabetes puts your risk of heart disease 5 times higher than average. An A1C higher than 6 indicates pre-diabetes. Cost: $50
6. Stress Echocardiography
Different than a regular stress test, this one includes an ultrasound before and after you exercise for look at your blood flow. It also checks your arteries for blockages. If the tests reveal reduced blood flow, one or more of your coronary arteries may be blocked. Cost: $850-$1,600
Now, there is no need to panic and run out to order all of these tests. Most of them are for those above 40 who also show other risk factors. You should get tested if you have a family history of heart problems, diabetes, or if you are showing symptoms of heart disease like shortness of breath and chest pain.
$760,000. That’s the cost of treatment for just one heart attack. While some of these tests seem very expensive, the cost is pretty small when you compare it to the cost of a heart attack. Don’t let heart disease catch up to you. Stay ahead of it with these tests.
Lee Daniels, Princeton Nutrients Staff