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  • Writer's pictureDr Felecia Sumner

Windows to Heart Disease Risk - Are You Getting The Right Labs?

Heart attacks happen to many people with no warning—which is why heart disease is called a ‘silent killer.” But it shouldn’t be that way. There are many tools and tests that can give insights into heart health if we put them to good use.

One example was just highlighted in a review of 52 studies that was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. It’s called abdominal aortic calcification (AAC).

Researchers found that people who have AAC have a 2-4 times higher risk of a future cardiovascular event (like a heart attack).

That’s pretty huge.

It’s because calcium can build up in the aorta before it builds up in the arteries of the heart. It’s an early red flag and a sign that you need to make some changes or take some preventive measures, like…

  • Quitting smoking 🚬 ❌

  • Getting more exercise 🏃🏾‍♀️

  • Eating better 🥗

  • Taking appropriate supplements 💊

There are also other (little-used) ways to get clues about your risk for heart disease. Imaging of the abdominal aorta is not the only way.

There are also several advanced lab tests—like homocysteine, C-reactive protein, fibrinogen, and sub-classes of the cholesterol markers you have checked at your annual physical.

Here’s the bottom line. The more information you have about your body, the more power you have to make changes that will keep you healthy. Many tools that are available to us are not used as part of routine care.

I believe that prevention is the best medicine. I also believe that the best way to practice preventive medicine is to use all of the screening and diagnostic tools at our disposal. When you’re ready to be proactive about your health, check out our services and book your first appointment!


Leow K, Szulc P, Schousboe JT et al. Prognostic Value of Abdominal Aortic Calcification: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies. J Am Heart Assoc. 2021.

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