A new study has found that multiple risk factors can increase a person's cardiovascular age by up to 10 years.
The study, the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), also noted that making high-risk patients aware of their risk factors and the potential benefits of lifestyle modifications helps improve cardiovascular factors, such as high cholesterol.
The Cardiovascular Health Evaluation to Improve Compliance and Knowledge Among Uninformed Patients (CHECK-UP) study was led by Dr. Steven Grover, Director of the McGill Cardiovascular Health Improvement Program (CHIP), who said that the economic burden of cardiovascular disease is substantial to the Canadian healthcare system, but even more important are the devastating human costs associated with the disease.
"The CHECK-UP study shows that when Canadians become more actively involved in the decisions surrounding their care, they are better equipped to manage their risk for future cardiovascular events," said Dr Grover.
The patients who entered the CHECK-UP study had high cholesterol requiring treatment as per the Canadian Working Group Lipid Guidelines. It also included those who had diabetes, established cardiovascular disease or multiple risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
The results of the study showed that lipid therapy is enhanced when patients are informed about their cardiovascular risk and when they receive ongoing feedback from their doctor about the impact the lifestyle modifications and statin therapy has on their cardiovascular risk.
Each patient's future risk of cardiovascular disease was based on their age, gender, blood pressure, blood lipids, and whether or not they smoked, had diabetes or a previous cardiac event such as a heart attack.
The computerized risk profiles used in the CHECK-UP study were based on data from the Framingham Heart Study, and the Cardiovascular Life Expectancy model previously published by the McGill research team.
Dr Grover said that they were very excited about the results of the CHECK-UP study.
"CHECK-UP is the first study of its kind in Canada to focus on the importance of communicating calculated cardiovascular risk to patients who are at high-risk for a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke," he said.
"Discussing a patient's coronary risk and taking the necessary steps to manage it is an important step in improving preventive care," he added.
Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, is the leading cause of death in Canada.
Research shows that approximately 80 per cent of Canadians have at least one modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol, hypertension, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle.
The research is published in this week's Archives of Internal Medicine.