Screening guidelines for coronary artery disease

The American Heart Association has guidelines for screening for coronary artery disease. These guidelines may be different from the ones your doctor follows. Work with your doctor to find out which guidelines are best for you.

Starting at age 20: During your regular physical exam, your doctor should check for things that can increase your risk for heart disease. These things are called risk factors. Your doctor will ask:

  • About your family history of heart disease.
  • If you smoke or if you are exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • If you eat a diet that's high in saturated fat.
  • If you drink alcohol, and how much.
  • How much physical activity you get each day.

At least every 2 years, during every routine physical exam, the doctor or nurse should check your blood pressure, body mass index, and pulse.

Based on your risk of high cholesterol, your doctor may recommend a cholesterol test.

Your doctor may recommend that you get checked for diabetes with a fasting blood glucose test.

At age 40 and over: Every 5 years, your doctor should check your 10-year risk of getting coronary artery disease. Your 10-year risk is a score that includes all of your risk factors. You may need this check done more often if your risk factors change or if you have two or more risk factors.

Your risk factor score for coronary artery disease can also show your risk for a heart attack. See the Interactive Tool: Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack? to learn your risk of having a heart attack in the next 10 years.

Last Updated: May 19, 2008

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