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The five-test panel is the first approach that permits a global view of risk.

Previously, there have not been good predictive strategies.

With the exception of the high-sensitivity troponin T test (which only recently received FDA approval), none of these tests are new.

It’s particularly useful for people who appear to be in good health and don’t have any of the usual risk factors—but who want to ensure that their hearts stay as healthy as possible.

Each of the five tests below reflects a different aspect of heart health. An electrocardiogram (EKG) measures voltage (the electrical activity created by each heartbeat) using electrodes placed on the chest.

For now, we mainly recommend the panel for individuals without obvious risk factors who want to do everything possible to protect their hearts…those with a family history of heart disease…or those interested in the most accurate information about future risk, for example.

If you already know you’re at risk, the extra information may not be as useful, since your doctor would recommend the same healthful strategies—weight loss, a healthier diet, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, etc.—in either case.

More than half of cardiovascular “events,” including heart attacks, occur in patients who would not be considered at high risk based on the usual risk factors.