Predicting your risk for heart attack and stroke just got easier

A team of researchers led by cardiologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center has developed a new online tool that enables those ages 40-65 to more accurately know their risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke over the next 10 years. Read story

{SUPER: Amit Khera, M.D./Professor, Internal Medicine/Director, Preventive Cardiology Program}

We were approached by NASA to help develop this tool to better predict heart attack and stroke. Their specific goal was for astronauts.

As you can imagine, a heart attack or stroke in space can be catastrophic and so for lots of different reasons, NASA needs to screen these individuals more rigorously.

But we saw the opportunity because it could be used in the broad population to help better screen people, in general.

There are some novel tests that we use. Something called a calcium scan of the heart that’s available.

With this calculator, you essentially can go in. Use your calcium score which you have to have and then a list or risk factors including your age, sex…

Your cholesterol, smoking status, blood pressure, diabetes and there’s also a blood test called C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammation, which you can include, if you have it. And importantly someone’s family history…and when you put all that information in, as best as you know it, click analyze and then you’ll get your 10-year predicted risk of a heart attack and stroke.

We’re really trying to be more precise now. Rather than, you’re generally speaking such and such risk, can we be more precise?

My ultimate hope is that 1) we can help people become better aware of their risks. That those that are at highest risk can use this to then go on and look for measures to lower their risk and most importantly we can support conversations between doctors and patients so they can make a shared decision around what they need to be doing for their risks.