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Heart Risk Can Be Predicted Without Lab Tests
Date:3/14/2008

Finding might help spot high-risk cases in developing countries

FRIDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to predicting a person's cardiovascular disease risk, cheap, simple and noninvasive methods can be as effective as lab tests, a new study finds.

The U.S. researchers noted these non-lab methods could be especially useful where lab testing is inconvenient or unavailable, such as in developing countries.

Worldwide, about 80 percent of cardiovascular deaths occur in developing nations, Dr. Thomas Gaziano, of the division of cardiovascular medicine at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston, said in a prepared statement.

The team analyzed data on 6,186 people who were aged 25 to 74 when they were first examined between 1971-75 for the NHANES I study. At the time, these participants did not report any history of cardiovascular disease -- such as heart attack, heart failure, stroke or angina -- or cancer.

Over a 21-year period, people in this group had 1,529 first-time cardiovascular events, including 578 deaths due to cardiovascular disease.

The researchers compared the lab-based method and the non-lab method in calculating a number called the c-statistic to assess cardiovascular risk prediction. The lab method included age, systolic blood pressure, smoking status, total cholesterol, diabetes status, and current treatment for high blood pressure. The non-lab method substituted body mass index (BMI, a ratio of weight to height) for cholesterol.

The lab and non-lab method gave similar c-statistics, but the non-lab method can provide risk factor information non-invasively and much faster -- just five to 10 minutes, the study authors said. They added that a cholesterol test is too costly for many people in developing countries.

The study was published in the March 15 issue of The Lancet.

"Although this method requires further validation and calibration
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