New online tool helps Americans assess their risk of heart disease

by | February 14, 2020 9:52 am

Each year, the American Heart Association declares February Heart Month to raise awareness about the high numbers of deaths and hospitalizations from cardiovascular disease in the United States. One important way you can mark the occasion is by taking the time to assess your risk of experiencing a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular problem. Thankfully, doing so just got a whole lot easier.

A team of researchers, led by Dr. Doug Manuel, has developed an online calculator that makes it easier for Americans to assess their risk of heart disease and change their unhealthy habits. Its algorithm was created by using data compiled from health surveys of more than 100,000 people, along with data on hospitalizations and deaths from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

The tool calculates your risk of dying or being hospitalized for cardiovascular disease within the next five years by asking you a series of questions about factors like your family history, diet, physical activity, alcohol consumption, and smoking habits. It also takes into account less obvious factors that affect your chances of developing heart problems, including socioeconomic status, education, stress levels, environmental influences, ethnicity, and other health conditions like diabetes.

The researchers hope that people will use the tool to assess their cardiovascular health and talk to their health-care providers about how their lifestyles are impacting their hearts. To try out the Heart Attack and Stroke Calculator yourself, visit the Project Big Life website at projectbiglife.ca/cardiovascular-disease.

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