Cardiovascular Health Factors, Atherosclerosis, Treatment of Cardiac Risk Factors

Your risk for developing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries or blockages) includes health factors that indicate your chance of having a cardiovascular event such as heart attack or stroke:

are all important in determining your risk. Treatment depends on evaluation of these and other risk factors.


The lipid profile measures cholesterol, triglycerides, high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C, “good” cholesterol), and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C, “bad” cholesterol). Triglycerides are the major form of fat found in the body and their function is to provide energy for the cells. Below are the desirable ranges for the components of the lipid profile:

  • Cholesterol <200 mg/dL (5.18 mmol/L)
  • HDL-cholesterol > 40 mg/dL (1.04 mmol/L)
  • LDL-cholesterol <100 mg/dL* (2.59 mmol/L)
  • Triglycerides <150 mg/dL (1.70 mmol/L)

To calculate your risk for developing heart disease with high cholesterol, use our Cardiac Risk Assessment questionnaire.  

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If you have high blood pressure ("the silent killer"), you are also at increased risk for having heart attack or stroke.

Calculate your High Blood Pressure Risk for Heart Disease and Stroke.

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If you have type 2 diabetes, you are at increased risk for haveing heart attack or stroke. Choose from these options what you can do to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease:

Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome

If you have metabolic syndrome, a combination of all the above risk factors, you are even more at increased risk for having heart attack or stroke.
To calculate your risk for developing heart disease with metabolic syndrome, take this evaluation:

If any or all of your results are significantly outside these ranges, your risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries or developing blockages) is increased. Blockages in your arteries limit the blood flow through them. In your heart that means less "fuel" is available to do its work (pump blood to the other organs in your body).

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How is treatment determined?

A healthy diet, exercise and cessation of smoking are the most important factors in reducing blood pressure and correct your cholesterol to normal levels. Often medications are necessary. For treatment of significant blockages in your coronary arteries, procedures such as coronary artery stent placement or coronary artery bypass operations may become necessary to restore the blood flow in your coronary arteries back to normal if possible. Irrespective of these, diet and exercise will always be a vital part of any other treatment option.

When you log in and answer the questions, you will get an answer that suggests the optimal treatment in your case. The more questions answered, the more accurate the answer. Even though this cannot replace a formal consult with your doctors, in most cases the answer will be quite accurate. Use the information as another tool to become more pro-active in your own care. Please understand that no treatment available today can eliminate coronary artery disease. A successful procedure will improve blood flow through your arteries, but will not do anything about the disease process that causes the blockages. Likewise, correcting cholesterol may stop the disease process from getting worse, but is otherwise unlikely to reverse atherosclerosis and render arteries without obstructions. Even if that is possible, such a process would take a long time and thus would not be effective therapy for a disease that needs treatment now!

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