New heart disease calculator more accurately predicts patients’ risk of CVDs

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According to the World Health Organization, CVDs are responsible for an estimated 17.9 million deaths every year

Researchers from the universities of Oxford, Nottingham and King’s College London (KCL) have shown that a new heart disease calculator can accurately predict an individual’s ten-year risk of cardiovascular diseases and identify high-risk patients.

Published in Nature Medicine, the QR4 tool could save over 2,500 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients a year, promoting earlier recognition of the disease and its associated cardiovascular risk.

Currently the leading cause of death globally, CVDs are responsible for an estimated 17.9 million deaths each year, according to the World Health Organization. They are disorders of the heart and blood vessels.

Researchers from KCL, along with the QRISK team based at the universities of Oxford and Nottingham, conducted a large-scale epidemiological study involving over 13 million UK citizens, which revealed an increased risk of severe cardiovascular events in female patients with COPD.

The team identified seven new unique risk factors common to all genders that were not part of current cardiovascular risk calculators: COPD, learning disabilities, Down’s syndrome and blood, lung, oral and brain cancer.

Applied to the QR4 model, the tool provides more personalised and inclusive results for doctors to use to estimate an individual’s likelihood of developing a CVD over the next decade to prevent illness.

After testing QR4’s algorithm against cardiovascular risk assessment tools being used in the US and Europe, the tool was found to outperform the most widely used heart disease risk calculators, including the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s recommended QRISK3 in the UK.

Researchers hope that clinicians, advisory bodies, regulators and health and care policymakers could use QR4’s advanced predictive capabilities based on national health guidelines in clinical settings to improve cardiovascular health outcomes.

Dr Julia Hippisley-Cox, lead author, professor of clinical epidemiology and general practice, University of Oxford, commented: “QR4… helps to address inequalities in health, particularly around learning disabilities, which often coincide with barriers to effective health management and access, leading to an increased risk.”

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