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Heart Tests You Should Know: June 3, 2011

Heart health: Are you getting all the information you need to determine your risk factor for a heart attack?

Each year, more than a million Americans suffer a heart attack, about half of those occur outside a hospital. That suggests at least some of the victims didn’t recognize the warning signs.

In addition to blood pressure, cholesterol, EKG and stress tests- there are 3 additional heart tests you should know about.

First: Calcium Score
Done with a simple CT scan, it shows the amount of calcium build up in the arteries.

“When you see the calcium in the artery it's a marker that you already have disease in your arteries,” says Dr. Vladimir Ilic, a cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System. The more calcium, roughly speaking the more disease.”

Second: Advanced Lipid Testing
It measures the concentration of bad cholesterol in your blood. High levels can boost your risk of heart attack by 15%.

Third: Carotid Intimal Medial Thickness Test
An ultrasound that allows doctors to detect thickening in the neck arteries that lead to the brain.

“When someone wants to find out whether their risk of things happening 5, 10, 20 years down the road, we on occasion use this test to find out very beginning of disease,” says Dr. Ilic.

These tests don’t predict a heart attack, but should provide risk factors and could be a warning sign to take care of your heart health.