Mercy Health introduces online heart disease risk assessment

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Mercy Health has launched an online heart disease risk assessment tool with the arrival of rising temperatures that can lead to heart issues.

The tool, which is free and open to anyone, gives its users an idea of their individual risk for heart disease and offers lifestyle goals for any changes, according to a release from the hospital.

Hot summer days can cause heat stroke, sun stroke or heat exhaustion, particularly for people who have pre-existing heart conditions, are over 50 or are overweight. According to the release, the heart beats faster in higher temperatures to keep the body cool.

“We all want to be active during the summer, so this is the time to listen to your heart and protect it through a healthy lifestyle,” said Mercy Health cardiologist Dr. Mian Alam. “Some risk factors for heart disease like your age and family history cannot be controlled, while the others — like high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, and diabetes — can be. Small heart-health actions like adding more activity and eating smart can make big difference in keeping our hearts strong.”

Heart disease comes with early signs, which vary depending on the specific type of disease. Coronary heart disease often presents with chest pain, shortness of breath and extreme weakness but in some cases there are no symptoms before a heart attack, according to the release. Women may experience atypical symptoms including shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and back pain.

Early signs of heart failure can be more vague and include fatigue or swelling in the legs. Valve issues may be found through other routine screenings and testing, according to the release.

Regular check-ups with a primary care provider and a cardiologist are the best way to monitor heart health.

“Don’t put off getting a physical,” Alam said. “Find out if you’re set for summer.”

People often don’t think about their heart health until they’ve experienced heart disease symptoms, Alam said in the release. He said a heart risk assessment “can remove some of the guesswork.”

The assessment, available online at, asks for general information including age and activity level, then asks about family history, lifestyle choices and physical health. The user will receive a report on their cardiovascular risk and their heart’s “age,” and they will also receive recommendations based on their specific circumstance. If they request it, they can receive a follow-up from the hospital, but no personal medical information will be shared.

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