Coronary Artery Disease Risk Screening

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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 around age 18

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

  • Have a family history of early heart disease.
  • Smoke or are exposed to second-hand 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.

The Canadian Cardiovascular Society recommends screening for coronary artery disease (CAD) every 1 to 3 years for:1

  • All men age 40 and over.
  • All women who are past menopause or are age 50 and older.
  • Children who have a family history of conditions that cause very high cholesterol levels (such as hypercholesterolemia).
  • Adults of all ages who have major CAD risk factors, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, abdominal obesity, chronic kidney disease, a family history of early-onset CAD, or who smoke.

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).

For more information, see the topic Coronary Artery Disease.



  1. Genest J, et al. (2009). Canadian Cardiovascular Society/Canadian guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of dyslipidemia and prevention of cardiovascular disease in the adult—2009 recommendations. Canadian Journal of Cardiology, 25(10): 567–579.

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.


By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer John A. McPherson, MD, FACC, FSCAI - Cardiology
Last Revised May 4, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.