New research claims that there are only 3.2 million adults under the age of 75 in Britain at high risk of developing heart disease in the general population without pre-existing cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
This is lower than previous estimates because researchers used a new method for calculating people’s risk of developing heart disease.
Usually a person’s chance of developing heart disease is estimated using standard risk factors such as age, sex, smoking, blood pressure and cholesterol. But researchers say that this tends to over-predict heart disease risk in the UK population and they have come up with a new scoring method that includes measures of deprivation, family history of heart disease, body mass index, and treatment with blood pressure lowering drugs.
The study concludes that this new scoring method could help identify high-risk patients better and would help reduce health inequalities by ensuring that treatments are directed towards those most likely to benefit.
“This is an interesting study as it could give us a better idea of who is most at risk of developing heart disease," said Libby Dowling, Care Advisor at Diabetes UK.
"Nevertheless more research would be needed to assess the accuracy of this alternative scoring system, as we would not want for people at risk to ‘fall through the net’.
"Cardiovascular disease is the most common complication of diabetes and it is essential that, as a high-risk group, people with diabetes are given the best possible access to information and treatment when it comes to cardiovascular disease.”
The study, conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Nottingham, Bristol Primary Care Trust, and the Universities of Bristol and Queen Mary, is published in the British Medical Journal online version and can be accessed on the right.