Heart Attack Risk Scores – How good are they?
Risk scores are designed to assess an individual’s chances of experiencing a heart attack based on factors such as the person’s family history, age, sex, cholesterol levels, smoking habits, and blood pressure. The Framingham Risk Score and the Reynolds Risk Score are two of the better known assessment measures.
Framingham Risk Score
The Framingham Heart Score is based on a multi-generational, gender based, long range study that was designed to explore both environmental and genetic factors affecting the cardiovascular system (along with other forms of disease). The purpose of the study was to explore the causes of heart disease, its progression, and why it can be fatal. The information provided in this long-range study helps medical practitioners get a better idea about patients’ likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases.
In order to have your risk score assessed using the Framingham Heart Score you need to have blood sugar levels, blood pressure, lipid (cholesterol) levels, and blood pressure checked by your doctor. Your weight, height, and waist measurement will also be checked. The risk assessment measures are more accurate if you use current information. The assessment is used to estimate the chances that you will die from heart disease within the next ten years. This risk determination is based on guidelines referred to as the ATP III assessment guidelines for metabolic conditions.
Researchers have continued to adapt the procedures to include risk factors that were not included in the original study. These new measures help gauge data that falls into the middle range, or “gray Zone”, and appears to provide more accurate results.
Reynolds – Family History
The Reynolds Risk Score was designed to help determine risk factors, for the next ten years, in individuals who do not have diabetes and are currently healthy. The Reynolds Risk Score uses blood pressure, age, smoking habits, level of cholesterol, as well as the hsCRP (an inflammation measurement), and family history factors to determine risk. The tool was developed from data collected throughout a period of ten years, from a pool of over least twenty-four thousand women. Within this study group, the data appeared to be as accurate as that determined by the Framingham risk score for low and high risk groups. For the “gray zone” group, the risk score seemed to be more accurate. The data accurately corresponded with real-life health events.
For healthy women and men who are free from diabetes, the Reynolds Risk Score may offer a reasonable way to estimate future risk of heart disease and heart attack, as well as the potential for suffering a stroke.
The EndoPAT® Test is another measure used to score the likelihood of heart attack. This system provides an easy and efficient measure, thus improving accurate heart-risk predictions. The non-invasive test requires a fifteen minute procedure that provides a reliable prediction of heart attack risk, based on measures of your endothelium health (arterial function). The results are obtained when very small bio-sensors are placed on your fingertips. These provide pulse-waves indicating the efficiency of artery blood-flow through the arm.
While these scores, as well as other measures, may help to determine level of risk, a low score does not mean that there aren’t health concerns. Even one risk factor left untreated may eventually lead to future problems. When used properly, risk scores can be beneficial if the information is used to assists with making positive lifestyle changes.