The thing that I remember most from a class I took on cardiovascular disease is that atherosclerosis, which is the first step towards heart attack and stroke, is an inflammation process. Luckily, there’s a good marker in your blood which can be easily measured.
"That factor is C-reactive protein, or CRP, a blood-borne marker of inflammation that, along with coagulation factors, is now increasingly recognized as the driving force behind clots that block blood flow to the heart. Yet patients are rarely tested for CRP, even if they already have heart problems."
Incidentally, I had my cholesterol checked last week and also requested a CRP test. Cholesterol was normal (a big change from a year ago) and CRP was below average, which is good.