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New Heart Disease Risk Score Will Help Minimise Health Inequalities

A new score for predicting the risk of heart disease gives a more accurate measure of how many UK adults are at risk of developing the disease and which adults are most likely to benefit from treatment .

The study published on bmj.com today, estimates that in the general population without pre-existing cardiovascular disease or diabetes, there are 3.2 million adults under the age of 75 in Britain at high risk of developing heart disease. This is lower than previous scores have suggested, but the researchers believe that it is a more appropriate estimate for the UK and will help minimise health inequalities.

The study comes as the governments drugs watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, recommends that people with a 20% chance of developing heart disease over the next 10 years should be offered statins.

A persons chance of developing heart disease is estimated using standard risk factors such as age, sex, smoking, blood pressure and cholesterol. This risk score is typically based on equations derived from the US Framingham cohort study.

But the Framingham equations tend to over-predict heart disease risk in the UK population and fail to include measures of deprivation, family history of heart disease, body mass index, and treatment with blood pressure lowering drugs, despite known links between these factors and poor health.

So a team of researchers, from Bristol PCT and the Universities of Nottingham, Bristol and Queen Marys, set out to derive a new cardiovascular risk score (QRISK) for the UK and test its performance against the established Framingham score and a new a score used in Scotland (ASSIGN), which includes a measure of social deprivation.

The research has been conducted using data from a general practice research database called QRESEARCH (which is a joint partnership between the University of Nottingham and EMIS).

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