Coronary Artery Disease Risk Screening

Browse By All Topics


Coronary Artery Disease Risk Screening

Topic Overview

The tests you might have to check your risk for coronary artery disease depend on your age, health, gender, and your risk factors. Different groups of experts write guidelines for different types of tests. Talk to your doctor to find out which tests are right for you.

Beginning at age 18

At least every 5 years, your doctor will talk with you about your risk factors for heart disease during every routine exam. Your doctor will probably ask if you:

  • Have a family history of early heart disease.
  • Smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Drink alcohol.

Your doctor will measure your:

Based on your risk of high cholesterol and diabetes, your doctor may recommend that you have a cholesterol test and a fasting blood glucose test.

Beginning at age 35 for men and age 45 for women

At least every 5 years, your doctor will check your risk of heart disease and heart attack. If you have a higher risk, your doctor will want to check your risk more often.

Your doctor will calculate your risk of getting heart disease or having a heart attack in the next 10 years. This risk is based on your age, gender, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and whether you smoke or have diabetes. If you know your numbers, you can check your risk using the Interactive Tool: Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack?

Other tests for your heart

Heart tests, such as electrocardiograms and stress tests, are not typically used to screen for heart disease. But they are used if your doctor thinks you might have heart disease. For more information, see the topic Heart Tests: When Do You Need Them?

Other times your doctor may check your risk

Many doctors recommend checking your risk for heart disease if you are:

  • Over age 39, have diabetes or more than one risk factor for CAD, and want to start a vigorous exercise program or are going to have major surgery.
  • Responsible for the lives of other people as part of your daily life (such as a pilot, bus driver, or sole caregiver for small children).


Other Works Consulted

  • Greenland P, et al. (2010). 2010 ACCF/AHA guideline for assessment of cardiovascular risk in asymptomatic adults: A report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 56(25): e50–e103.
  • Redberg RF, et al. (2009). ACCF/AHA 2009 Performance measures for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in adults: A report of the American College of Cardiology Foundation/American Heart Association Task Force on Performance Measures. Circulation, 120(13): 1296–1336.
  • U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2004). Screening for coronary heart disease: Recommendation statement. Annals of Internal Medicine, 140(7): 569–572. Also available online:
  • U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2009). Using nontraditional risk factors in coronary heart disease risk assessment. Available online:


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerRakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Specialist Medical ReviewerRobert A. Kloner, MD, PhD - Cardiology
Last RevisedApril 6, 2012

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use.

How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.