New "Score Sheet" Can Estimate Individual's Risk for Developing Heart Disease

      Framingham Heart Study researchers have developed a new score sheet that can help predict when a person may suffer angina, a heart attack, or die from heart disease.   The risk is determined by assessing multiple factors known to contribute to heart disease such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, smoking and diabetes.

      The test provides a physician and his or her patient with one number predictive of risk.

      This "global" number also can be used to show how one person's risk compares to people of the same age whose risk factor scores are average or optimal.   The study calculates the risk of developing heart disease in the next 10 years.

      From a one-page score sheet that is filled out by hand or on the computer, a patient can see his or her risk number as soon as the results of blood pressure and other tests can be entered.

      Risk assessment tools are important because they help physicians and patients identify specific risk factors that need to be controlled to reduce the overall risk of having a heart attack.   Strategies can be implemented to modify risk factors contributing to an elevated risk for disease.