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Age can predict heart risk

5th May 2011

A new study has focused on age being used as effectively as medical tests to predict the risk of heart disease or stroke.

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A report by a team at Barts and the London Medical School says offering treatment to all people aged over 55 would achieve the same results as screening through tests like blood pressure or cholesterol.

And they believe that such a step may help save as many as 100,000 lives in England and Wales.

Lead author of the report – published in the journal PLoS ONE - is Professor Sir Nicholas Wald, Director of the Wolfson Institute at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

He said: “This study shows that age screening for future cardiovascular disease is simpler than current assessments, with a similar screening performance and cost effectiveness. It also avoids the need for blood tests and medical examinations.

“With age screening, all individuals above a specified age would be offered preventive treatment. Everyone would benefit because, for blood pressure and cholesterol, the lower the better.”

For their findings, research compared the effects of two screening programmes on a theoretical population of 500,000 people.

The first approach used screening just by age with those over 55 over preventive treatment, regardless of whether they were at risk while the second used existing screening methods, based on age and sex, and whether someone was a smoker or has high blood pressure or cholesterol.

Both had an 84% detection rate, but offering everyone preventive treatment at 55 was found to be more cost effective.

 

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