Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Coronary artery disease is the most common form of heart disease.

The coronary arteries (major veins) carry blood and oxygen to the heart muscle. With coronary artery disease, plaque builds up on the artery walls and the heart muscle cannot get the oxygen it needs to function properly.

If the heart muscle does not get enough oxygen—even for a short time—it will cause some of the heart muscle tissue to suffer (otherwise known as a heart attack) or it may potentially result in an arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), which can lead to sudden death.

Many heart disease events occur without warning or symptoms. That is why it’s important to talk to your doctor and have regular testing done. This helps you and your doctor treat the disease and improve your health.

Heart Disease Symptoms

Symptoms of heart disease vary according to the specific condition. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease. This buildup of plaque in the arteries is a common cause of heart attacks. According to the American Heart Association, coronary artery disease symptoms can include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Extreme fatigue with exertion
  • Heartbeat palpitations (“skipping a beat” feeling)

Contact your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.

Where traditional tests miss the mark

Commonly, risk of heart disease is measured by low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. However, according to the American Heart Journal, only 50% of heart disease cases are linked to high cholesterol.1 For many patients, today’s routine cholesterol tests are not identifying their hidden risks for heart attack. That’s why simply checking cholesterol levels is not enough.

In fact, a recent study showed a surprising number of people with low LDL cholesterol levels still get heart disease.1 New guidelines support a more complete check-up that looks at various risk markers to tell your doctor about your full health story.

A new generation of heart disease testing

New advanced testing allows for better ways to understand your heart health.

At Quest Diagnostics, our mission is to help prevent heart disease and support your efforts to lead a healthy life. We work with your doctor to create a complete, individualized plan that looks at different risk makers (such as cholesterol testing) and life factors (such as smoking, diet, stress) that may cause heart disease. With this information, you and your doctor are empowered to better know how to protect or improve your heart’s health.

There are small steps you can take today to lower your risk of heart disease and lead a healthier life

? Eat a healthy diet
 
  • Eat one extra fruit or vegetable a day
  • Make breakfast count by eating whole grains and protein
  • Have a handful of nuts
  • Cut down on sugary drinks
? Get to or stay at a healthy weight
 
  • Try to add more exercise to your day
  • Tone your muscles
? Manage your stress
 
  • Take slow, deep breaths. It may help lower blood pressure
? Stop smoking (if you do)

Next Steps

Read about each Cardio IQ test
How to request a lab test
Patient Service Center locator
Get your results with MyQuest™

Reference: 1. Sachdeva A, Cannon CP, Deedwania PC, et al, on behalf of the GWTG Steering Committee and Hospitals. Lipid levels in patients hospitalized with coronary artery disease: an analysis of 136,905 hospitalizations in Get With the Guidelines. Am Heart J. 2009;157(1):111-117.e2.