European Society of Cardiology launches upgraded risk measurement tool for heart attacks and strokes

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Following clinicians’ feedback, HeartScore a tool that helps clinicians rapidly estimate the risk of cardiovascular disease in individual patients using age, gender, basic health indicators, and lifestyle factors has been updated to incorporate a number of new features that will enhance its value as part of cardiovascular disease prevention strategies. HeartScore was first developed by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) in 2004.

Ian Graham, chair of the Prevention Implementation Committee of the ESC’s European Association of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation (EACPR), and project leader for HeartScore, said: “This important update continues our work to develop a practical tool for accessible cardiovascular disease risk estimation. Clinicians have told us that, above all, they want accurate, fast and simple information that is relevant to them and their patients. I am confident that this new release of HeartScore will meet those needs and benefit patients everywhere.”

Three variants of the updated HeartScore have been formally released at the 2011 ESC Congress in Paris. These are European models for both high and low risk, and a variant for France the 15th national version to be developed. The new features include:

*A refinement that allows clinicians the option to enter the actual HDL cholesterol level rather than the combined HDL/LDL cholesterol level this step improves the accuracy of the model, especially in marginal cases.

*A ‘fast track’ calculator in which Body Mass Index (BMI) replaces blood pressure and cholesterol inputs this is intended only for when blood pressure and cholesterol are not available and provides only a preliminary assessment.

*A ‘risk age’ function that determines the theoretical age of a person exposed to the same range and level of risk factors this will help patients quickly understand their exposure to overall cardiovascular disease risk.

Around 26,000 medical professionals across Europe are already using HeartScore which has been adapted into 14 national versions to support specific local requirements including language and, when appropriate, to meet mortality rates of individual countries. The application is available online or as a download at www.heartscore.org. Predictions of cardiovascular disease risk are based on the ESC’s SCORE (Systemic coronary risk evaluation) model which is itself based on the 2007 ESC Guidelines on cardiovascular disease prevention. HeartScore conducts a real-time statistical analysis of data entered by the clinician. Results are available immediately and can be archived for future comparisons and progress monitoring.

The model provides a simple graphical display of absolute cardiovascular disease risk together with tailored information on intervention areas, a discussion on the relevant risk factors, and a printed advice pack for the patient that explains the analysis and encourages shifts in behaviour and lifestyle when appropriate.

Pantaleo Giannuzzi, EACPR president, said, “Our objective is to provide a proven means for predicting cardiovascular disease risk which meets the needs of clinicians and their patients. Because HeartScore is designed to evolve, it can be updated to fit local conditions or reflect fresh thinking. This makes it a powerful tool that offers a great opportunity to highlight the crucial benefits of cardiovascular disease prevention.”

The HeartScore application has been pre-selected as a contender for the 2011 European Health Award.