The Heart Disease Prevention Guide for Your 20s, 30s, and 40s
The New Screening Tools
The following screenings may benefit women who have a strong family history of the disease but none of the clearer-cut risk factors, such as elevated blood pressure and cholesterol. Ask your doctor if your history warrants taking any of these tests.
C-Reactive Protein (CRP)
Marks levels of inflammation, which experts now say may be the most important predictor of heart trouble.
Excess levels of this amino acid may indicate scarring or thickening of arterial lining.
Too much of this blood protein, which is essential for clotting, can increase your chances of having a stroke.
This blood lipid disrupts the body's ability to dissolve clots.
"Heart attacks aren't usually the clutch-and-fall Hollywood drama; often they're extremely subtle," says Sharonne N. Hayes, MD. In fact, only half of all patients suffering from a heart attack experience chest symptoms. Fatigue, abdominal upset, nausea, or jaw pain in any combination are more common. "Any new chest, neck, or back discomfort associated with shortness of breath or sweating is a warning sign to take action immediately," says Dr. Hayes.
Originally published in Fitness magazine, February 2006.
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