Friday, July 06, 2007

Good News for U.K. and Heart Disease

Wow, some actual good news from Bloomberg.com

Risk of Heart Disease in U.K. May Be Overstated, Report Says
By Kari Lundgren and Kristen Hallam

July 6 (Bloomberg) -- The number of U.K. residents at risk for heart disease may be overestimated by as many as 1.9 million, according to a report today in the British Medical Journal.
A new method incorporating more factors including family history and socioeconomic backgrounds resulted in an estimate that 3.2 million adults were at high risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers said in the study. Previous methods of gauging the risk predicted the figure may be as high as 5.1 million.

Such over-estimates place substantial strain on the country's National Health Service resources and exposes patients to unnecessary treatments and possible side effects, the researchers said. In 2004, the disease cost the U.K. economy 29.1 billion pounds ($58.5 billion), according to an Oxford University study published by the on-line journal Heart in March 2006.

The new method ``takes account of social deprivation to better identify patients most at risk of heart disease and stroke who are most likely to benefit from treatment,'' study leader Julia Hippisley-Cox, professor of clinical epidemiology and clinical practice at the University of Nottingham, said in a statement.

Cardiovascular disease kills more than 110,000 people in the U.K. every year, making it the country's most deadly disease, according to the Department of Health.

The study tracked the incidence of cardiovascular disease in more than 1.2 million people between the ages of 35 and 74 over a 12-year period, comparing the predictions of three indexes. Researchers found that the new QRISK method, which takes into account the extra factors, was more accurate than a recently developed Scottish score called ASSIGN and the Framingham risk equation, which is the most used. The Framingham index, developed in the U.S., may overestimate risk in European populations by as much as 50 percent, researchers said.

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