New lifetime risk measure to predict heart disease

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Doctors should help patients prevent cardiovascular disease earlier in their life, according to new recommendations published recently.

According to a release, people could live healthier and longer lives if doctors assessed a patient’s risk of evolving cardiovascular disease over the course of their lifetime. Currently, strategies to prevent and treat cardiovascular disease are based on estimating a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease in the next 10 years.


By only using short term estimates, the long term health consequences of modifiable risk factors – such as blood pressure and cholesterol – are overlooked, even if they put a person at a high lifetime risk. Evidence shows that early lifestyle interventions and, where necessary, drug treatment can modify disease evolution and the risk of future cardiovascular disease events.


The proposals are published in a report: the Joint British Societies Consensus Recommendations on the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease (JBS3). This report, which represents an evolution in cardiovascular disease prevention, is a collaborative effort from the British cardiovascular societies who deal with cardiovascular disease risk assessment, its prevention and management.


The key feature of the Joint British Societies Consensus Recommendations on the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease is an innovative risk calculator: a web-based interactive tool, health professionals can use with patients to help communicate their longer term cardiovascular disease risk. The calculator also shows the extra years of healthier life people could gain by implementing interventions, whether these are lifestyle or pharmacological.


Novel metrics such as ‘heart age’ and cardiovascular disease event free survival are displayed together with more traditional 10-year risk. The aim of the JBS3 risk calculator is to empower individuals and help patients understand why they should start reducing their risk of cardiovascular disease, when they should start, and what they should do. It also emphasises the need for long-term maintenance of risk factor lowering to have the greatest influence on cardiovascular disease risk over lifetime.

Iain A Simpson, British Cardiovascular Society president says: “By only using short term risk estimates, which are heavily dependent on age and gender, younger people and women tend to be overlooked even if they have substantially elevated modifiable risk factors and are consequently at high lifetime risk. Evidence shows that early lifestyle interventions and, where necessary, drug treatment can modify disease evolution and the risk of future cardiovascular events. This change to ‘lifetime risk’ represents an opportunity for investment in future cardiovascular health.”


John Deanfield, British Heart Foundation professor of cardiology at University College London, JBS3 chair says: “JBS3 takes a personalised lifetime approach to cardiovascular disease risk. It is about lifestyle and if they are needed, getting medication to the right people at the right time.”