Cardiac Risk Assessment

In those who have already has coronary artery problems with either angina or a heart attack it is important that the correct treatments are put in place to prevent further problems - medication, life style modifications such as stopping smoking, angioplasty and stents etc. This is known as secondary prevention.

However, it is clearly better to try and prevent any cardiac events in the first place - and this is known as primary prevention. While we should all be tyring to lead a healthy active lifetstyle, there are certain risk factors that can lead to an increased likelihood of heart disease, and by putting all of these factors together a better idea of overall cardiovascular risk can be assessed and if necessary appropriate treatments started to reduce the future risk.

Your GP may well take the opportunity to perform a risk assessment during a visit to the surgery. The usual factors that are taken into account are age, blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol levels, smoking and family history. These can be used to generate a percentage risk over the next 10 years. At present we then actively treat any risks if the risk is over 20%.

A newer way to assess the likelihood of coronary disease is 'calcium scoring'. Here a CT scan of the heart is performed which assesses the amount of calcium within the coronary artetries. Calcium is very easy to see on the scan, and in general is a sign of underlying cholesterol build up or atheroma. The total amount can be added up and then plotted on a graph to see whether this is within normal limits for age and sex. The more calcium then the greater the future risk, indicating the need for further treatment, for example with statins, and possible investigation with exercise testing and / or angiography.

Please note:

Every effort has been made to ensure that the information on this website is up-to-date and accurate. However, it is intended to serve as a guide only. Symptoms may vary and if you have any medical concerns you should always consult a healthcare professional.