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News2008March › Heart Attack: Can you work out your own risk without a doctor? › March 2008

Heart Attack: Can you work out your own risk without a doctor?

Can you work out your chances of having a heart attack, even without seeing a doctor? Most doctors will assess your risk by checking your cholesterol levels, but there are plenty of other indicators that can be just as accurate

Can you work out your chances of having a heart attack, even without seeing a doctor? Most doctors will assess your risk by checking your cholesterol levels, but there are plenty of other indicators that can be just as accurate.

The 'do-it-yourself' guide includes your age, blood pressure, your body-mass index and your waist measurement, and whether you are a diabetic or a smoker.

Researchers have discovered that the D-I-Y assessment is just as accurate in assessing the risk of a heart attack as the full laboratory test, which includes measuring cholesterol levels from a blood sample.

A research team from Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston assessed the heart attack risk of 6,186 American volunteers, who were a sub-set of a major health study that had started in 1971. In the past 21 years, 1,529 of the group had suffered a first heart attack, and 578 of these had died as a result. The deaths were predicted accurately in both the cholesterol and the D-I-Y assessments.

Although the researchers used a complex weighting ratio to assess the risk in the D-I-Y tests, anyone can use the same indicators to gauge a rough idea of their risk.

(Source: The Lancet, 2008; 371: 923-31).


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