Did you know that you can calculate your individual risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke over the next 10 years? This prediction is based on vast amounts of statistical data collected from population studies and is scarily accurate. If you have the results of a recent health check-up (blood pressure and cholesterol levels) you can predict your own risk on-line. If you prefer, of course, you can ask your doctor to do this for you (they may use a slightly different calculation provided via their own medical software).
Heart risk calculation based on UK data
Your risk of a heart attack or stroke over the next ten years is calculated from your age, gender, ethnicity, smoking and diabetes status, systolic blood pressure (upper level), height, weight and cholesterol balance (cholesterol/HDL ratio which is calculated by dividing your total cholesterol level by your HDL level).
You will also be asked about certain health conditions (eg diabetes, chronic kidney disease, atrial fibrillation or rheumatoid arthritis) and family history of antina or heart attack, which can affect your risk. Any factors you don’t know the answer to can be left blank, but this may reduce the accuracy of the calculation.
The risk calculation is most accurate if you are aged 25 to 84 years, live in the UK and can insert your postcode. You can still use it if you live outside the UK or don’t know your postcode, but the calculation is then based on average values, and may under-estimate your risk if you live in a deprived area, and over-estimate your risk of you live in an affluent area.
The calculation is valid for people who do not already have a diagnosis of heart disease or stroke.
Heart risk calculation based on US data
A simpler calculation is based on data from the long running Framingham Heart Study in the United States. To predict your risk of a heart attack in the next 10 years, insert your total, HDL and LDL cholesterol (in mg/dl), triglycerides, systolic blood pressure (upper number) and diastolic blood pressure (lower number) and whether or not you are taking any medication to treat high blood pressure. Then insert your birth date, gender and whether or not you are a smoker or have diabetes.
The calculation is valid for adults aged 20 years or over, who do not already have heart disease or diabetes.
Looking for more heart health tips?
This is just one of the tips included in my free factsheet, 10 Things To Ask About Heart Health, which you can download free by signing up to my newsletter using the form in the side bar.
If your blood pressure is raised, self-monitoring is key to maintaining good control.
Click here for advice on choosing a blood pressure monitor to use at home.
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