Health

‘Major advance’ in heart attack detection as risk calculator is ready for use

‘Major advance’ in heart attack detection as calculator that can tell medics who risks being struck down in next decade is ready for use in UK 

  • SCORE2, enables doctors to predict who is at risk of having a heart attack
  • Researchers say the tool will help save people from heart attack or stroke
  • People who are flagged as having an increased risk can be put on personalised preventative treatment, such as statins, or will receive lifestyle advice

A risk calculator that helps predict heart attacks and circulatory diseases years before they strike is ready for use across Britain, researchers say.

The risk calculator, SCORE2, enables doctors to predict who is at risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years with greater accuracy.

Researchers say the tool represents a ‘major advance’ in the field, and will help to save people from having a potentially deadly heart attack or stroke.

Those who are flagged as having an increased risk can be put on personalised preventative treatment. This can include statins, or lifestyle advice to lower the risk. 

Around 200 investigators and researchers across Europe analysed data from nearly 700,000 participants – mostly middle-aged – from 45 different studies.

The risk calculator, SCORE2, enables doctors to predict who is at risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years with greater accuracy (stock image) 

When recruited to the studies, participants had no prior history of heart and circulatory disease, and in the 10 years they were followed up, 30,000 had a cardiovascular event – including fatal or non-fatal heart attack or stroke.

The risk tool was statistically recalibrated, by using regional-specific cardiovascular and risk factor data from 10.8 million people, to more accurately estimate cardiovascular risk for populations split into four European risk regions.

It uses known risk factors for heart and circulatory diseases such as age, sex, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and smoking.

The calculator accounts for current trends in heart and circulatory diseases, can predict both fatal and non-fatal conditions and is adaptable to countries with different levels of risk.

Researchers say it can better estimate the cardiovascular risk amongst younger people, and will improve how treatment is tailored for older people and those in high-risk regions across Europe.

It uses known risk factors for heart and circulatory diseases such as age, sex, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and smoking (file image)

It uses known risk factors for heart and circulatory diseases such as age, sex, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and smoking (file image) 

Professor Emanuele Di Angelantonio, BHF-funded researcher at the University of Cambridge BHF Centre of Research Excellence, said: ‘This risk tool is much more powerful and superior than what doctors have used for decades.

‘It will fit seamlessly into current prevention programmes with substantial real-world impact by improving the prevention of cardiovascular diseases across Europe before they strike.’

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, medical director at the British Heart Foundation and cardiologist, said: ‘This new risk tool is a major advance and will save many more people from developing heart attacks, stroke and heart disease, all of which develop silently over many years and strike without warning.

‘It will be the new gold standard for doctors to determine which patients are at the highest risk of these conditions, and enable tailored treatment and lifestyle advice to be given much earlier.’

SCORE2 will be adopted by the upcoming European Guidelines on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Clinical Practice.

The research was funded by the British Heart Foundation and published in the journal European Heart Journal.

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