Understanding heart disease and testing

Learning more about heart health is the first step in overcoming heart disease, the leading cause of death in America. Heart disease is associated with strokes and heart attacks, and it’s often preventable through lifestyle changes and drug therapies.

The most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease. Coronary arteries (major veins) carry blood and oxygen to the heart muscle. When plaque builds up on the coronary artery walls, the heart muscle cannot get the oxygen it needs to function properly.

If the heart muscle is deprived of oxygen—even for a short time—it will cause some of the heart muscle tissue to suffer (heart attack) or it can result in an arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). Either can lead to sudden death.


Many heart disease events occur without warnings or symptoms.

That is why it’s important to talk to your doctor and have regular testing done.

Heart Disease Symptoms

Symptoms of heart disease vary according to the specific condition.

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

Risk of heart disease is commonly measured by low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. However, a study by the American Heart Association revealed that 50% of patients that sought medical attention for a cardiovascular event (like a heart attack) were well within recommended LDL levels.1

For many patients, routine blood tests are not identifying their hidden risks for heart attack. New guidelines support a more complete check-up that looks at various risks to tell your full health story.

Simply checking cholesterol levels is not enough.

That’s why we are innovating at the first national center of excellence in cardiometabolic disorders. Our Cardio IQ tests provide a more thorough evaluation, detecting early warning signs of heart disease and other health risks.

Heart See what a better heart test can tell you.

Next Steps

Read about each Cardio IQ test
How to request a lab test
Make your appointment

1. American Heart Association Get With the Guidelines program