Certain elements in your blood, like your cholesterol, triglycerides, or fibrinogen, are like a window to your heart health. Using blood tests to understand your risk of coronary artery disease is a proactive approach to a healthier heart. Work with your healthcare provider to understand your results and determine the best next steps.
Your healthcare provider may order blood and urine lab tests to determine your risk of heart and blood vessel disease. Certain results, like high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), indicate a higher risk of heart disease. The test results and your health history help your healthcare team create the best care plan for you.
A healthcare professional called a phlebotomist or phlebotomy technician usually performs the blood draw. A medical laboratory technician runs the blood sample through a machine that determines the results.
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When detecting heart disease risk, healthcare providers pay close attention to:
High levels of Lp(a) tend to run in families. Your provider may order this test if you have a family history of heart disease at an early age.
Before the blood draw, ask your healthcare provider if you should stop taking any medications, vitamins or supplements. Sometimes, certain medications can affect the results of a blood test. Always ask your provider before stopping any medication.
You may need to stop eating or drinking (fast) before a blood test. Ask your healthcare provider in advance if you should fast before the test.
The phlebotomist inserts a needle into the top of your hand or inside of your elbow. They draw blood from a vein. You may feel a sharp prick as the needle enters your vein. The blood draw usually takes about a minute.
After collecting a blood sample, the phlebotomist removes the needle from your vein. They apply light pressure to the blood draw location, then cover it with a bandage.
Results vary depending on the different elements of your blood. Your provider will discuss your results with you and any next steps in your care.
This list covers results pertaining to heart disease risk:
Total cholesterol (TC): Your results may differ depending on your age and other risk factors. Ideal results by age:
Triglycerides (TG): The ideal result is less than 150 mg/dL. A very high result (greater than 500 to 1,000 mg/dL) increases your risk of pancreatitis. Levels are usually higher if you have obesity or diabetes.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL): The higher your HDL level, the better. Ideal levels depend on your sex:
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): Your ideal result depends on the current state of your health:
Complete blood count with differential (CBC): Normal ranges include:
Lipoprotein (a): An ideal level is less than 30 mg/dL. If your level is high, your healthcare provider will likely discuss how to manage your heart disease risk factors, especially your LDL level.
Apolipoprotein B (ApoB): An ideal level is less than 100 mg/dL.
Homocysteine (Hcy): An ideal level is less than 15 mcmol/L.
Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c): Results can indicate prediabetes or diabetes. Ideal results for those with diabetes differ from those who don’t have diabetes. In addition, these cutoffs may vary depending on race.
Fasting glucose (fasting blood sugar): An ideal level is less than 100 mg/dL. High levels can mean you have diabetes or insulin resistance:
Creatine kinase (CK): A normal range is 30 to 220 U/L. Levels may be higher if you take medication to lower cholesterol levels.
Alanine aminotransferase (ALT), or SGPT: The normal range is 5 to 45 U/L. Levels may be higher if you take medication to lower cholesterol.
Aspartate trans-aminase (AST), or SGOT: The normal range is 7 to 40 U/L. Levels may be higher if you take medication to lower cholesterol.
Fibrinogen: The normal range is 200 - 400 mg/dL.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH): The ideal range is 0.4 to 5.5 mIU/mL. This may change if you have had prior thyroid intervention.
Ultra-sensitive C-reactive protein (us-CRP), or high-sensitivity CRP: Results show your level of risk of heart and blood vessel disease:
Urine albumin-creatinine ratio (uACR): The ideal result is less than 30 mg/g.
MPO: The ideal result is less than <420 pmol/L. If your levels are high, your healthcare provider will discuss how to reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems.
Vitamin D: The ideal range is 31 to 80 ng/ml.
Trimethylamine N-oxide, or TMAO: Results indicate your level of risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke and clogged arteries (atherosclerosis):
If your levels are high, your healthcare provider will discuss how to lower your LDL and other risk factors. Your provider may recommend taking low-dose aspirin twice a day and following a Mediterranean diet.
Amino-terminal, pro-brain natriuretic peptide, or NT-proBNP: The ideal result is less than 125 pg/mL. If your levels are high, your healthcare provider will discuss how to reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems.
Serum creatinine (CR): Ideal results vary depending on your sex:
Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk score:
It will take at least a few days or longer to receive your blood test results. Ask your healthcare provider how long you can expect to wait before getting your results.
Call your healthcare provider if you haven’t received your test results within a couple of weeks. Your provider will discuss with you the next steps in your care.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
While blood tests help your healthcare provider better understand your heart disease risk, they’re not a definitive diagnosis. If your blood test results show you have an increased risk, your provider may recommend further testing. Talk to your provider about any questions or concerns you have throughout this process.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/31/2022.
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