21st century heart & brain health

Help make your brain and heart “disease-proof”

This Heart Month marks five years since healthcare providers got a new tool to help keep your heart healthy and brain safe from stroke.

The tool — the ASCVD Risk Estimator — identifies your risk of developing heart disease, possible prevention options, and lifestyle factors that can influence your risk.

Why should you take the time to have the conversation with your healthcare provider about the ASCVD risk estimator? It might just save your life.

Heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases kill over 800,000 Americans each year — that’s one in every three deaths.

Cardiovascular disease is the nation’s number one killer of women and men, and the leading health disparity across the population. Washington state is no different — heart disease and stroke together are the leading cause of death.

There are many factors influencing risk — age, sex, race/ethnicity, cholesterol values (total, low-density lipoprotein, and high-density lipoprotein), blood pressure levels (measured accurately), smoking, diabetes, and other medications — so it’s essential to use a risk calculator that looks at all these factors and applies current research to create a personal assessment.

To use the calculator, your healthcare provider first needs your recent blood cholesterol and blood sugar tests or will order new tests if necessary. After the information is put into the calculator, the results will help guide a conversation between you and your healthcare provider to make sure you’re aware of all that can be done to lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Your preferences for treatment are taken into account, as well as a realistic assessment of your lifestyle and the things you do and don’t feel you can change.

By discussing your individual risks and preferences with your healthcare provider — and informed by the powerful insights offered by the ASCVD Risk Estimator — together you can make decisions for your healthiest future.

The ASCVD Risk Estimator was made available for free in 2014 by the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association.

Author: Sara Eve Sarliker is the Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Lead at the Washington State Department of Health

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