Predict Your Risk of Heart Attack or Stroke

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How likely are you to have a heart attack or stroke? A simple blood test can help predict your risk.

The PLAC® Test measures an enzyme, Lp-PLA2, that is produced when your arteries are inflamed and plaque (fatty buildup) is at risk of rupturing. When a rupture occurs, a blood clot forms over it, sometimes blocking the artery. That’s what causes most heart attacks and certain types of strokes.

You can’t feel artery inflammation, but a PLAC Test can sense it for you. The higher your Lp-PLA2 enzyme, the higher your risk for heart attack or stroke.

Know when to step up preventive care

For patients visiting the Preventive Cardiology Clinic at Cleveland Clinic, the PLAC Test is a standard tool, part of their panel of inflammation and advanced cardiovascular disease risk blood tests.

“We use it particularly for patients with intermediate risk, for whom we’re not already using the most aggressive risk-reduction efforts,” says Stanley Hazen, MD, PhD, Section Head of Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation. “If levels are elevated, we intensify preventive efforts.”

It’s a blood test that can help predict stroke risk, he notes.

“Clearly high blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke, but measuring blood pressure alone is not sufficient to capture those at increased risk,” said Dr. Hazen in a recent Parade magazine article about the PLAC Test.

Other screenings still important

The PLAC Test isn’t intended to be used alone. You still need regular cholesterol tests, blood pressure checks and screenings for diabetes and other cardiovascular risk factors. But PLAC Test results can give your doctor extra information about the health of your arteries, which can help identify the best treatment for you — especially if your cardiovascular risk before was uncertain.

“When we know a patient’s risk of having a cardiovascular event, we get one step closer to preventing it,” says Dr. Hazen.

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