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Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Those who have hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, poor nutrition and diet, are overweight, smoke, and/or are physically inactive are at a greater risk for heart disease and an AMI. Family history, gender, and lifestyle also contribute to this risk.
Since lifestyle is so strongly correlated to cardiovascular health, we are all used to public awareness and educational efforts that promote excercise and healthy diet. Perhaps no other area of lab testing is more well-known to the public than lipid testing (many patients know their target LDL and total cholesterol concentrations).
Laboratorians should be familiar with the Framingham Risk Score. This is a score which tells how likely the patient is to have an adverse cardiovascular event (such as an AMI,) in the next 10 years. The score is based on a large population study and factors only the patient's sex, age, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes status and smoking status. You can find Framingham risk calculators online. The Framingham Risk score is a good example of how powerful lifestyle (smoking, blood pressure, etc.,) and lab factors can be in determing one's cardiovascular risk.