Even young and healthy adults could be at risk for heart disease, according to a new study.
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have shown in clinical studies that even young adults who have few short-term risk factors for heart disease may have a higher risk of developing heart disease over their lifetimes.
"We found that about half of individuals who are 50 years of age or younger and at low short-term risk for heart disease may not remain at low risk throughout their lives," said Dr. Jarett Berry, assistant professor of internal medicine at UT Southwestern and lead author of the study.
Using current 10-year risk assessment data, more than 90 percent of patients 50 years of age and younger are considered at low risk for heart disease.
But when researchers added a lifetime risk model to the 10-year risk model, they found that about half of those with a low 10-year risk but high lifetime risk had a greater progression of heart disease, as measured by build-up of coronary artery calcium and thickening of the carotid artery.
"There is a discrepancy between short-term and long-term risk. People deemed low-risk, using the 10-year assessment, may not remain low-risk throughout their lives," Dr. Berry said.
The findings suggest that traditional methods of identifying heart disease risk might not adequately identify patients who actually have a higher lifetime risk.
The study appears in the Jan. 26 issue of the journal Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.