How Many Risk Factors Must I Have Before I Should Get Tested For Heart Disease?

Question: How many risk factors must I have before I should get tested for heart disease, or is there some special combination of risk factors?

Answer: In general, we don't recommend routine screening for coronary artery disease with imaging tests even for patients who have risk factors. We recommend that you have a careful conversation with your physician and talk about your risk factors for heart disease.

Having said that, there are some patients with risk factors in whom a stress test, an ultrasound of the carotid arteries, or a coronary calcium scan may be useful. In general, these are patients over the age of 40, who have two or more risk factors, and their doctor determines that they are at intermediate risk.


Intermediate risk means that they are not high risk or low risk, but they are in the middle. In those circumstances, sometimes getting an imaging test can help your doctor decide whether or not lifestyle changes, or changes in your medical regimen, can be beneficial.

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