Will Blood Work Show Heart Problems?

Checking your bloodwork is an effective way to understand your heart health. Several different types of blood tests, including cholesterol tests, can help you understand your risk factors for heart problems. Blood tests are relatively non-invasive and can be a quick, affordable way to show heart problems. A blood test alone won’t be able to provide you with a diagnosis. Visiting a cardiologist for a complete checkup is the best way to check on your heart’s health.

When Will a Doctor Perform a Blood Test for Heart Issues?

Your doctor may order cardiac blood tests if you have high cholesterol, high triglycerides, or a family history of heart disease. Your medical history is important in determining your risk factors for heart disease. Cardiologists work with patients to use blood tests and other tests to determine their risk for stroke, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular problems. 

The baseline tests for heart disease are generally cholesterol tests, common for everyone undergoing a general check-up. However, if you have multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease, your doctor may order less common tests. Your primary care provider may order basic blood tests when you visit for a general wellness checkpoint. Suppose your blood tests indicate cardiovascular risk factors or you have a family history of cardiovascular disorders. Your provider may refer you to a cardiologist who will order more comprehensive tests in that case. 

Preparing for Cardiovascular Blood Tests

The preparation for blood work for heart problems depends on the specific test you’re taking. Your doctor may ask you not to eat or drink anything except water for up to 12 hours before your blood draw appointment. Drinking enough water is vital to keep your veins hydrated so your provider can find a vein to take a blood sample. 

Many patients like to schedule an appointment to have their blood drawn early in the morning because fasting is easier while sleeping. On the day of the blood draw, you’ll check into the medical office or lab for testing. You’ll generally be able to make an appointment, but some labs accept patients on a first-come, first-served basis. Your technician will prepare your arm for the blood draw. Patients usually receive their results within a week. 

High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein

Our livers make C-reactive protein (CRP) as part of our response to infection or injury. This physiological response causes swelling inside a person’s body, called inflammation. Inflammation causes plaque buildup in a person’s arteries, called atherosclerosis. Blood work can check for high-sensitivity CRP (hs-CRP) to help determine a person’s risk of heart disease before they start having symptoms. 

The higher the hs-CRP levels, the greater the risk of heart disease, stroke, or heart attack. However, a high CRP level doesn’t always mean a person has a higher risk of heart issues. Having a cold, finishing a challenging workout, and many other factors can cause inflammation. Therefore, the test should be conducted twice, two weeks apart. 

Cholesterol Tests

A lipid panel or profile, a cholesterol test, measures the amount of fats in a person’s blood. Blood work related to a person’s cholesterol levels can help predict the risk of heart disease or heart attack. The test measures a person’s total cholesterol. A healthy level of total colorectal is lower than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) or 5.2 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).

Blood work can also determine your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, often called the “good” cholesterol. HDL helps carry the LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, away from your arteries, helping blood flow more freely through them. Women should aim for an HDL over 50 mg/dl (1.3 mmol/L. Men should aim for a level over 40 mg/dL (1.0 mmol/L). The higher your HDL, the better. High levels of triglycerides can also increase your risk of heart disease. You should aim for a triglyceride level less than 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L).

Testing for Lipoprotein (a)

Lipoprotein (a), or Lp(a), is a type of LDL cholesterol. LIfetyle doesn’t affect Lp(a) levels. A person’s genes affect them. If you have high Lp(a) levels, you may have a higher risk of heart disease, but researchers aren’t clear exactly how much your risk will increase. If you have heart disease but your cholesterol levels are normal, your cardiologist may order an Lp(a) test to find the cause of your heart issues. If you have a family history of early-onset heart disease, stroke, or sudden death, your doctor may order the test. 

Troponin T

High-sensitivity troponin T tests help cardiologists diagnose heart attacks by measuring Troponin T, a protein found in a person’s heart muscle. The test results can also help indicate a person’s risk of heart disease, especially for those with no other symptoms of heart attack or heart disease. 

Natriuretic Peptides

Brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) is a protein made by the heart and blood vessels. It helps blood vessels relax, moves sodium into urine, and helps the body eliminate fluid. When a person experiences heart damage, his or her body increases BNP levels in the blood to help ease heart strain. 

If you experience shortness of breath, your cardiologist may order a blood test for natriuretic peptides. This test can help your cardiologist determine whether you are experiencing heart failure. Many cardiologists will order a baseline BNP test and then test at regular intervals after the initial test to see how well your medical treatment works.

Check Up on Your Heart Health in Nassau County, New York

Protecting your heart’s health is one of the most important things you can do to live a long life. If you want to see how your heart is doing, it’s always a good idea to schedule regular check-up appointments with a cardiologist. Contact Cardiovascular Wellness in Lake Success or Hicksville in Nassau County, NY, to schedule an appointment to check your heart health.

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