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The Best Heart Attack Predictor
It's not your blood pressure, your cholesterol, or your triglycerides that you'll look at.
Read on to discover what that test is, why it's the best way to predict cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, and what you can do if your risk factor is high.
In this article, I will cover...
- What causes heart attacks?
- The best test to predict your risk.
- What to do if your risk is high.
First, let's discuss the true cause of heart disease and what is really at the root of the problem.
What is the true cause of heart disease and heart attacks?
When you have a heart attack, the flow of blood to the heart muscle through the coronary artery becomes obstructed. That starves the heart of oxygen and blood, the heart muscle cramps, you get a heart attack, and you can die.
The cramping of the heart muscle happens when a plaque or a clot is obstructing the coronary artery. When plaques block your blood vessels, this is called atherosclerosis.
A blood clot is composed of many things, including calcium, cholesterol, and other elements like fibrin.
Many people think that cholesterol is the leading cause of heart disease and cardiovascular problems. But the combination of cholesterol, calcium, and other clotting factors only acts as a band-aid to cover up the damage that is already present.
Plaques and clots are just your body's way of patching the damage and allowing things to heal.
But what causes the damage in the first place?
At the root of the problem is a high level of insulin. High insulin in the body causes inflammation, which damages your arteries. That causes the body to have to form clots. And when those clots build up and block your blood vessels, you get heart disease and heart attacks.
High insulin → Inflammation → Clotting → Heart attack
Cholesterol, which is just a component in the clot, isn't the problem (read more about the truth of cholesterol here). Cholesterol comes in very late on the chain of events. High insulin, on the other hand, starts the chain of events. It is what we really need to pay attention to when trying to reduce our risk.
Insulin is what damages the blood vessels and creates real danger.
Unfortunately, 50% of the time, people will die of an attack without any symptoms at all. You do not want to be surprised by an attack and have heart disease problems going on in the background without even knowing it.
So how can we know how much damage has already occurred and thus predict our cardiovascular disease risk?
The best heart attack predictor test: Coronary artery calcium score
The best way to measure the damage already present is to get a non-invasive test done that measures the amount of calcium in the coronary artery.
The coronary artery calcium score (CAC) is a direct measurement of the amount of damage in that blood vessel.
This test gives you insights into the person's past lifestyle – including what they have been eating and what they have been doing. And it can help predict the problems they might encounter with their cardiovascular health moving forward.
Here are some benefits of the CAC test:
- It is relatively inexpensive. It costs just about $100 to get this test done. What better way to spend your money than to give yourself an accurate picture of your cardiovascular disease risk?
- It is easy to do. The procedure for this test only takes a few minutes to perform.
- It can predict your risk even when other test results come out normal. For example, your CAC score can be high even when you have normal levels of traditional risk factors like cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugars, blood pressure, etc.
- It can predict your risk of ALL deaths, not just heart attacks. It predicts risk for things like cancer, lung disease, and kidney disease, for example.
The amount of calcium in your blood vessels is a major risk factor for heart disease. So get this CAC test done because it can help you learn what you need to know about your cardiovascular risk.
What do CAC scores mean?
So you've opted to get the test. Now how do you interpret your results?
Here's what the numbers mean:
- A score of 0 - your risk is extremely low.
- A score of 1-80 - you should be concerned.
- A score of 81-400 - you are in a pretty serious situation, and you should start taking steps to reverse the problem.
- A score of 400 or above - you risk is very high. You need to make changes now.
- A score of 1,000 or higher - your risk for a heart attack is 10x higher than normal.
If you are at 1,000 or above, things are really serious and you need to change your lifestyle now if you want to avoid an attack. And if you have numbers on the lower end, things are still ok. But anything above a zero should be concerning and deserve attention.
What to do if your risk is high
If your CAC scores are high, and thus your risk factor for cardiovascular disease is high, then it is time to act.
You can still improve things and reverse the damage if you start to make some changes. You will want to support your body in bringing down inflammation, preventing further damage, and protecting your heart.
What can you do to support this process?
One of the best things you can do is to lower insulin in the body by changing the way that you eat.
Here is some information on things you can try to reduce your high risk:
- Consider doing the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting for your heart health. Both of these approaches are excellent at lowering insulin, and they can show some real benefit when it comes to heart disease risk.
- Try these tips for the best diet for heart disease. Eat lots of vegetables and healthy fats, and reduce sugars, carbs, and even whole grains.
- Learn more about the ignored causes of heart disease.
I'm not saying that I have all the answers, but I do want to help give you information so that you can do your own research and come to your own conclusions on the best way to move forward.
The CAC test is one of the most effective risk prediction tests you can do to learn how likely you are to get a heart attack.
The more you know, the better. That way, you can start taking steps to reduce damage and reverse the problems that are already present. With some dietary and lifestyle changes, you can help yourself stay healthy and support your heart health.
Have you ever had this test done? What were your results? Share your thoughts on this #1 predictor of heart attacks in the comments below.