Heart disease prediction tool more accurate than ever, according to University of Nottingham study

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A study from the University of Nottingham has shown heart disease patients who would have previously slipped through the net can now be picked up as “at risk”, thanks to a prediction tool which is more accurate than ever before.

The QRISK3 algorithm now takes into account additional risk factors, including migraines, the autoimmune disease lupus, severe mental illness, erectile dysfunction and variations in blood pressure to identify more at-risk groups, with previous versions looking into ethnicity and risk factors such as type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, atrial fibrillation and chronic renal disease.

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As a result of this, more patients than ever are being identified as ‘at risk’ of heart disease and stroke and are being offered lifestyle advice and preventative treatment.

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation said: “It is now easier to accurately identify people most at risk of heart disease than ever before.

“The inclusion of new risk factors, such as migraine and mental illness, will enable doctors to better spot those most at risk of heart disease and recommend treatment or behavioural change.

“With advances such as this and more investment in medical research, we will be able to save more lives.”

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A NICE guideline in 2014 brought to light a number of conditions associated with increased cardiovascular risk, which saw the introduction of QRISK3.

Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox, from UoN’s Division of Primary Care, who was the lead author of the study and one the original academics who developed the original QRISK tool, believed patients can feel “reassured” by the progress made by the prediction tool over the past 10 years.

She said: “This publication in the BMJ coincides with the 10-year anniversary of the publication of the original QRISK score and much has been achieved since then.

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“QRISK® is now the leading tool in the UK to assess cardiovascular risk and is in national guidance and has been implemented into all GP surgeries and many pharmacies across the UK, as well as in the occupational health functions of large organisations including the BBC, National Grid, Scottish Water, RNLI and Jaguar.

“The QRISK® website has been used 2.6 million times worldwide over the last five years in every single country apart from the Sahara Desert and Central African Republic. Independent research has shown that it even works better in the United States than tools developed there.

“Patients can feel reassured that more people than ever who are most at-risk of developing heart disease in the future are being identified and offered lifestyle advice and preventative treatment.”

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