Do you know your risk for heart disease?

September 8, 2008 by  

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Do you have an undiagnosed risk for developing cardiovascular disease (CVD)? You think it’s highly unlikely? Well, think again.

According to a British study, one in three people with high cardiovascular risk over the next years are unaware of their risk, and neither are their health care providers. In other words, it is very often that the risk remains undiagnosed until it manifests in overt symptoms. This oversight in risk assessment is especially strongest in middle-aged men.

The study conducted by Oxford University researchers in a mobile clinic looked at 71,037 men and women aged 18 and older all over England, Wales and Scotland. Tests were performed and questionnaires were filled in. The results do not look good.

  • 20% of all male study participants and 6% of female participants have high likelihood of developing CVD in the next 10 years.
  • CVD risk is highest in the 50 plus age group compared to others. 75% of men and 45% of women in this age group have CVD, diabetes, and are taking anti-cholesterol or anti-hypertension drugs.

Based on the results, the participants were classified as having high, medium, or low risk profiles.

People were defined as high risk if they had more than a 20 per cent chance of developing CVD over the next 10 years. This criterion is in line with the Joint British Societies Guidelines on Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Clinical Practice, which were issued in 2005 and endorsed by the UK’s National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence in 2006.  

Based on their risk profiles, the participants were then given appropriate medical advice. High risk individuals were advised to see their doctor, together with their tests. Those with medium risk profiles were given verbal as well as written advice as to how to reduce the risk.

In the UK alone, almost 8 million people have been diagnosed with CVD or have recognized high risk for CVD. However, it is estimated that there are almost 4 million people out there whose risk are undiagnosed and are therefore unaware of this risk. Because of this, they do not concern about preventive measures, lifestyle changes, professional advice or early treatment. Of these, 2.8 million are male and 900,000 are females. If these figures were to be extrapolated on a global scale, the numbers are staggeringly big. There is clearly a need for more awareness of CVD risks and risk factors on the part of patients and health care providers alike.

The most common risk factors for CVD are:

  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Bad nutrition
  • Smoking
  • Genetics

So don’t think you are exempt from CVD risk. Check your lifestyle. Check with your doctor. Remember: early detection means early prevention.

Photo credit: fishmonk at stock.xchng

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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