This fall, my annual cholesterol screening showed an alarming increase in all the cholesterol markers: Total Cholesterol, HDL (‘good’) cholesterol and LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol.
Both my Primary Care Doctor and I whipped out our phones and opened the ASCVD risk calculator app. I was relieved to find that although my 10-year risk of heart disease had increased versus last year, it still showed a low enough risk that statin medication was not required.
BUT THEN she told me about someone who eats well and exercises and also had a low 10-year risk of heart disease according to the calculator –
Health issues due to the pandemic affected nearly everyone in 2020. Lockdowns and working from home wreaked havoc with exercise routines. For many, stress eating and drinking replaced healthy habits. The result: millions of Americans know they gained weight last year. But many may not realize that weight gain alongside months of anxiety and stress might also have elevated blood pressure. And that is alarming as weight gain, alcohol consumption, and elevated blood pressure all increase risk of heart disease… sometimes significantly.
So if you’ve had—or are about to have—an overdue physical, don’t be surprised if your doctor newly diagnoses you with high cholesterol (or high blood pressure or diabetes.) If that happens,
Did you know that there’s a non-invasive test that can help you and your doctor decide if you truly need a statin medication to lower cholesterol?
It’s called a Coronary Artery Calcium (CAC) Scan. While this test is not right for everyone, if your personal risk of heart disease is uncertain it can help guide your medication decision.
That’s what happened with me, which I wrote about in my 2017 post, Coronary Calcium Scan Illuminates Heart Disease Risk. Since then, the CAC scan is being more widely used and it’s something everyone who falls into the ‘unclear’
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. According to the American Heart Association, “Cardiovascular disease, listed as the underlying cause of death, accounts for nearly 836,546 deaths in the US. That’s about 1 of every 3 deaths in the US.”
1 in 3.
What’s your risk? If you know your cholesterol levels and blood pressure you can calculate YOUR risk of heart disease (and take steps to lower it). It’s easy with this online calculator:
Online AHA 10-Year Heart Disease Risk Calculator: Web version *