• Study: Calculators’ Doctors Use May Overestimate Heart Risks

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    Doctors have relied on the undisputed champion of heart disease risk. It emerged from a massive study of heart disease risk factors in more than 5,000 men and women and pointed out advanced age, being male, smoking, having diabetes, high total cholesterol, low levels of good cholesterol and high blood pressure.

    The various “calculators” that doctors use to estimate patients' odds of future heart trouble often overestimate the risks, a new study suggests.

    Researchers found that four of five widely used formulas may overestimate people's risk of heart attack, stroke or other related complications by as much as 154 percent in some cases.

    That includes the most recently developed risk calculator, unveiled alongside new treatment guidelines in 2013 by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA).

    That “discussion” is about whether a patient with no history of heart problems or stroke should start using preventive therapies, like a cholesterol-lowering statin or a daily aspirin.

    According to the latest ACC/AHA guidelines, people should consider preventive therapies if their risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke over the next 10 years is at least 7.5 percent.

    And how do you know what your odds are? Doctors have long used various risk calculators to …

    In the current analysis, these guidelines overestimated heart attack risk by 86% in men and 67% in women when Blaha and his team compared the predicted risk to actual rates of heart events in a group of more than 4,000 people aged 50 to 74 years, who were followed up for an average of 10 years. The other models overshot the risk by anywhere from 37% to 154% for men, and from 8% to 67% for women.

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