"What sets this cardiovascular risk calculator apart from other calculators worldwide is that it looks at healthy living, and it is better calibrated to the Canadian population," says Dr. Doug Manuel, lead author of the Cardiovascular Disease Population Risk Tool (CVDPoRT) in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
The calculator uses responses from 104,219 Ontario residents from the Canadian Community Health Surveys (2001 to 2007) linked to hospitalizations and deaths to develop and validate CVDPoRT.
The calculator allows individuals to predict their risk of hospitalization or death from cardiovascular disease within the next five years. For example, if their risk is 5%, it means that 5 in 100 people like them will experience a serious cardiovascular event in the next five years. The calculator also provides heart age, an easy-to-understand measure of heart
The Cardiovascular Disease Population Risk Tool considers many factors, including sociodemographic risks, health behaviour risks (smoking status, alcohol intake, diet and physical activity), health conditions and more.
"People are interested in healthy living, but we don't often have that discussion in the doctor's office," says Dr. Manuel. "Doctors will check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but they don't necessarily ask about lifestyle factors that could put you at risk for a heart attack and stroke. We hope this tool can help people—and their care team—obtain better information about healthy living and options for reducing their risk of heart attack and stroke."
In addition to personal use, policy-makers can use the tool to calculate risk profiles for different populations. Currently set up for use in Canada, it can be adapted for any of the 100 countries around the world that collect health survey data.