Wouldn’t it be great if you could pull out your heart risk calculator every time you skipped a workout or ate something unhealthy? It’s not as simple as punching some numbers into your phone, but there is a way to learn the risk your lifestyle presents. It’s by using the heart attack risk calculator.
The calculator assumes you have not had a heart attack or stroke in the past. It’s a tool designed to assist people who have not been diagnosed with heart disease. You can use it to get an understanding of your risk for developing heart disease within the next 10 years. You can use the information as a guide and talk to your doctor about it.
So, let’s take a look at the information you’ll need to provide and where you can find a heart attack risk calculator.
Heart Attack Risk Calculator: Age
You will have to provide your age to the heart attack risk calculator. That’s because your age becomes a bigger heart risk factor based on the way you’re treating your body.
If you’re a 45-year-old smoker who doesn’t exercise, your risk of having a heart attack will be higher than a 45-year-old non-smoker who works out five days a week.
For women, age becomes a risk factor at 55. After menopause, women are more apt to get heart disease, in part because their body's production of estrogen drops.
Heart Attack Risk Calculator: Total cholesterol (mg/dL)
Cholesterol helps your body build new cells and produce hormones. But you can get too much of a good thing, and you’re going to need on know this number for the heart risk calculator.
Too much cholesterol in your body is a risk factor for heart disease because it can cause your arteries to narrow. This can cause blood flow to your heart muscle to slow down or be blocked.
The American Heart Association recommends you get your cholesterol checked every four to six years if you’re age 20 or older.
Heart Attack Risk Calculator: HDL cholesterol (mg/dL)
Your HDL cholesterol is an important piece of information you’ll plug into the heart attack risk calculator. That’s because HDL, which stands for high-density lipoprotein, is called the "good" cholesterol. It carries cholesterol from other parts of your body back to your liver. Your liver then removes the cholesterol from your body. The higher the number, the better.
Some heart risk calculators will also ask you for your LDL. LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein. It is called the "bad" cholesterol because a high LDL cholesterol level leads to a buildup of cholesterol in your arteries.
You can get your HDL and LDL levels at the same time you get your bloodwork for your total cholesterol.
Heart Attack Risk Calculator: Systolic blood pressure (mmHg)
You’ll need to know your blood pressure numbers for almost any heart risk calculator you find. Systolic blood pressure is the upper number. It indicates how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls when your heart beats.
Typically, more attention is given to systolic blood pressure as a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over 50. It tends to rise steadily with age because your arteries get stiffer.
Heart Attack Risk Calculator: Diastolic blood pressure (mmHg)
Diastolic blood pressure is the lower number of your blood pressure reading. It tells you how much pressure your blood is exerting against your artery walls while your heart is resting between beats.
Now that you know what information you’ll need, it’s time to assess your risk score. Here’s a link to the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association’s heart risk calculator. Talk to your doctor about risk factors you may have.
You can decrease your risk of developing heart disease by following the guidelines put out by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. Or you can download our guide: “The Heart Disease Facts That Could Change Your Life.” In it you’ll find the telltale symptoms that may tell you there is something wrong with your heart.