Health In Focus
  • New online health calculator accurately predicts heart disease risk and heart age based on several parameters, many of which are modifiable
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide as well as in Canada, and most persons are unaware of their risk factors until a major adverse heart event, which could be fatal
  • Knowledge of a person’s heart disease risk and specific risk factors that need to be addressed and modified will help institute individualized treatment measures aimed at reducing this risk and improving overall outcome of the patient.

New health tool that is calibrated to the Canadian population aims to predict heart disease risk and reduce or even prevent the occurrence of adverse heart events by putting in place appropriate preventive measures suited to each individual patient.

Dr. Doug Manuel, lead author, senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and a senior core scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), said: "What sets this cardiovascular risk calculator apart is that it looks at healthy living, and it is better calibrated to the Canadian population."
New Online Health Calculator Tool Can Predict Heart Disease Risk

The steps to build and validate the heart risk calculator tool appears in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal ).

Details of the Study

  • The large study was conducted among residents of Ontario Canada. The study team gathered information on 104219 residents from the Canadian Community Health Surveys between 2001 and 2007, linked to ICES records on hospitalizations and deaths in order to create and test the Cardiovascular Disease Population Risk Tool (CVDPoRT).
The calculator helps a person to accurately predict his or her risk of hospitalization or death from heart disease in the next five years. For example, if the risk is seven percent, it means that seven in 100 people like them are likely to undergo an adverse heart event in the next five years.
  • The calculator also provides information about the state of the heart by estimating the heart age.

Advantages of The Heart Disease Risk Calculator Tool

Unlike other risk prediction tools, the CVDPoRT takes into account several factors, such as sociodemographic status, environmental influences like air pollution, lifestyle behaviors such as smoking alcohol intake, physical activity, and other underlying health conditions. The list includes the following
  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Diet
  • Exercise and physical activity
  • Stress
  • Smoking history and lifetime exposure to cigarette smoke
  • Alcohol intake
  • Sense of belonging
  • Immigration status
  • Education level
  • Socioeconomic status of the neighborhood
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
"A lot of people are interested in healthy living, but often we don't have that discussion in the doctor's office," said Dr. Manuel, who is also a professor at the University of Ottawa. "Doctors will check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but they don't necessarily ask about lifestyle factors that could put you at risk of a heart attack and stroke. We hope this tool can help people and their care team with better information about healthy living and options for reducing their risk of heart attack and stroke."

Scope of This Health Tool

  • The tool can be used by an individual to know about his or her heart disease risk
  • The tool can be modified for use in any of the 100 countries in the world that routinely collect health survey data to estimate risk profiles of different populations.
  • Currently, this tool is calibrated to the Canadian population
If this tool is effective in various clinical settings, it may change the approach to heart disease prevention, focusing on individualized measures that add years to a person's life as well as life to one's years.

Prevention of Heart Disease Risk

Heart disease is caused by a combination of several factors, some unmodifiable and several modifiable. We can therefore significantly heart disease risk by addressing the modifiable risk factors (through lifestyle change or medications), by following the simple measures below
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Exercise every day for at least 20 minutes
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables; avoid junk food high in saturated fats
  • Practice stress reduction techniques such as relaxation, deep breathing and yoga
  • Effective control of high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Reduce high blood cholesterol levels
  • Get a good night's rest
The unmodifiable risk factors of heart disease include increasing age, male gender, postmenopausal women, family history, ethnicity; all of which are higher among American Indians, native Hawaiians, Mexican Americans, and some Asian Americans.

Heart attack preventive measures should begin early in life. It is advisable to start with an assessment of your risk factors and institute a plan of action to follow long-term, in order to lower the risk of heart attack. Prevention is key, since many first-time heart attacks can be fatal or severely affect the quality of one's life and economic productivity.

References :
  1. Understand Your Risks to Prevent a Heart Attack  - (
  2. SEVEN MORE YEARS: The impact of smoking, alcohol, diet, physical activity and stress on health and life expectancy in Ontario  - (

Source: Medindia

Most Popular on Medindia