February is American Heart Month – What’s Your Heart Disease Risk?
February is American Heart Month: do you know your personal 10-year risk of heart disease? And the key factors that elevate heart disease risk?
What’s Your Personal 10-Year Risk of Heart Disease?
You can easily calculate your own 10-year risk of heart disease. In fact, the risk calculator is even available in an app (my cardiologist used his phone to calculate my risk during our last appointment). If you do not already have heart disease, are between 40-80 years old, and have an LDL cholesterol level lower than 190 mg/dL, you can calculate your 10-Year risk of heart disease with an online calculator. All you need are your Cholesterol and Blood Pressure numbers.
There are two calculator options:
- The Heart Risk Calculator is the simpler calculator: it has fewer inputs and it’s easier to read suggestions for lowering heart disease risk. This picture shows their risk-lowering suggestions based on the numbers I input.
- The American College of Cardiology’s ASCVD Risk Estimator Plus is a more in-depth tool with more detailed inputs and suggestions for lowering risk. It’s probably the one your doctor would use.
Use one—or both—of these calculators (if they apply to you) to quickly get a better understanding of your 10-year risk of heart disease and what you can do to lower it.
Key Factors That Elevate Heart Disease Risk
In their online resource, Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors, the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute details key heart disease risk factors. Broadly, there are two types of risk factors: a) risks you cannot control, and b) risks that are controllable with lifestyle, diet and, if necessary, medication.
Heart disease risk factors you CANNOT control (but should be discussed with your doctor) include age, gender, ethnicity, and family history of heart disease.
Risk factors that are controllable with lifestyle, diet and, if necessary, medication include:
- High Blood Cholesterol and Triglycerides
- High Blood Pressure*
- Diabetes and Prediabetes
- Overweight and Obesity
- Lack of physical activity
- Unhealthy Diet
If you have one or more of these risk factors, it’s vital that you discuss your heart disease risk with your doctor and develop a plan to reduce your risk. A heart-healthy lifestyle can reduce cholesterol and blood pressure and thus heart disease risk.
* For more detailed information about high blood pressure and the heart disease risk it poses, read my post, High Cholesterol and High Blood Pressure Raise Heart Disease Risk. And for more detail about cholesterol and how to lower it naturally with diet and exercise, give my book a try.
At least once a year—why not now?!— it’s smart to really consider your heart health and make sure you’re doing all you can to reduce your risk of heart disease. So if you have your cholesterol results and know your blood pressure, take a moment to calculate your personal heart disease risk (if the calculator is applicable to you), and review the factors that increase your risk of heart disease.
If you don’t know your cholesterol, now’s the time to get it tested.
And if you don’t know your blood pressure, get thee to a drugstore or buy a home blood pressure monitor. Personally, I like the Omron 10 Series Wireless Bluetooth Upper Arm Blood Pressure Monitor with Two User Mode (200 Reading Memory) – Compatible with Alexa because it sends readings to my phone so I can easily track it over time and bring results to my doctor.
It’s February. Do you know your heart-disease risk?
There’s no better time than right now to make sure you’re doing all you can for your heart health.