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What's Your Heart Attack Risk?

Some Internet tools can help you find out

Are you at risk of a heart attack in the next 10 years?

For example, if you're male, you already have one strike against you. It's one of several risk factors that have been identified by the Framingham Heart Study, which has followed the heart health of the people of Framingham, Mass., since 1948.

The study has followed more than 5,000 people from all age groups, divided by gender, race and other factors.

If you know your blood cholesterol measurements and blood pressure, you can calculate your risk for "hard" cardiac events, i.e., heart attack and cardiac death. But remember, nothing replaces an actual checkup with your doctor.

Time magazine features an online calculator that will figure the 10-year risk for anyone over the age of 20 who doesn't have diabetes or diagnosed heart disease.

Last month, the U.S. National Cholesterol Education Program recommended that everyone 20 and older be tested at least every five years for blood cholesterol and triglycerides -- another type of fat that predicts the risk of cardiovascular problems. The group also called for more aggressive treatment of elevated cholesterol, particularly among diabetics. Another HealthDay story reviews the new guidelines.

If terms like HDL, LDL and milligrams per deciliter confuse you, the Boulder, Colo., Daily Camera reprints a "clip-and-save guide to cholesterol" from the Toledo Blade that explains it all.

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