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Screening urged for heart disease

26th July 2006

15032006_artery1.jpgAn international group of prominent cardiologists has called for non-invasive screening for heart disease of all US asymptomatic men aged 45-75 and women aged 55-75, reports the BMJ.

The Screening For Heart Attack Prevention And Education (SHAPE) task force says that screening should be carried out to measure coronary artery calcium, with computed tomography scan, and carotid intima media thickness and plaque, with carotid ultrasonography.

The proposal hinges on the basic principle that traditional risk factor screening—the Framingham risk score and the SCORE criteria in Europe—does a good job of identifying people at very low and high risk of myocardial infarction or stroke over a decade but fails to single out "at risk" men and women who represent everything in between. The Framingham risk factors include hypertension, hypercholesterolaemia, history of smoking, age, diabetes, and a family history of stroke or heart disease.

The group's recommendations were published as a supplement to the American Journal of Cardiology in July and the group claims that the new proposed guidelines will change healthcare. However, an internal source told the BMJ that he thought the recommendation of the SHAPE task force "was a dramatic assault on evidence based medicine," and said that there were no good data to support these claims.

 

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