New health calculator can help predict heart disease risk, estimate heart age

July 23, 2018

A new online health calculator can help people determine their risk of heart disease, as well as their heart age, accounting for sociodemographic factors such as ethnicity, sense of belonging and education, as well as health status and lifestyle behaviors. The process to build and validate the tool is published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in Canada, although risks of death from heart disease are modifiable with lifestyle changes. Most people are unaware of their cardiovascular risk until they experience a cardiac event, which may be fatal.

Using a “big data” approach, researchers used routinely collected data on 104 219 Ontario residents from the Canadian Community Health Surveys (2001 to 2007) linked to ICES data on hospitalizations and deaths to develop and validate the Cardiovascular Disease Population Risk Tool (CVDPoRT).

The calculator allows individuals to accurately predict their risk of hospitalization or death from cardiovascular disease within the next five years. For example, if their risk is 5%, it means that five in 100 people like them will experience a serious cardiovascular event in the next five years. The calculator also provides heart age, an easy-to-understand measure of heart health.

Unlike other risk prediction tools, the Cardiovascular Disease Population Risk Tool considers many factors, such as sociodemographic status, environmental influences like air pollution, health behaviours ranging from smoking status to alcohol intake to physical activity, health conditions and more. The list includes:

• Age
• Smoking status and lifetime exposure
• Alcohol consumption
• Diet
• Physical activity
• Stress
• Sense of belonging
• Ethnicity
• Immigration status
• Education
• Socioeconomic status of the neighbourhood
• Diabetes
• High blood pressure

In addition to personal use, policy-makers can use the tool to calculate risk profiles for different populations. Currently set up for use in Canada, it can be adapted for any of the 100 countries around the world that collect health survey data.

Medical Xpress has the full story

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