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).