ORLANDO, Fla. -

A heart attack happens every 26 seconds in the U.S, knowing how to protect your ticker could save your life.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S. While blood pressure checks and cholesterol tests can paint a picture of your heart health, some equally important heart tests aren't as routinely offered. There are three lesser-known heart tests every woman should know about.

On your next visit, ask about advanced lipid testing. It measures the concentration of bad cholesterol particles in your blood. High LPA levels nearly triple the risk heart attack.

Also check your calcium score. The simple five minute CT scan can show calcified plaque 20 years before a heart attack.

And don't leave without a carotid intima-medial thickness (CIMT) test. The 15-minute ultrasound of the neck arteries can detect abnormal thickening, which can signal early heart disease.

Another way to lower your risk of heart attack? Get a cat! A study by the Minnesota Stroke Institute that followed more than 4,000 cat owners and found people who owned cats were 30 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack. The researchers were unable make the same conclusions about dogs based on the data they gathered.