New smart calculator able to predict person’s 10 year risk of heart disease more accurately

Exciting research, led by Oxford University, has developed a tool that predicts a person’s 10 year risk of cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease and stroke, more accurately than before.

The tool, called QR4, can help ­identify these ­diseases in particular high-risk ­patients, which current ­prediction tools can miss.

QR4 can be thought of as a type of calculator that lets doctors use a person’s health data – such as blood pressure, age and medical history – to estimate their likelihood of developing a cardiovascular disease over the next decade. And that means they can intervene early to prevent illness.

It includes seven new risk factors applicable to all adults: COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), learning disabilities, Down syndrome and four cancer types (blood, lung, oral and brain), highlighting how other significant conditions can impact on heart health.

QR4 also identified factors specific to women’s health that were predictive of future heart-disease risk, such as complications from high blood pressure during pregnancy, and postnatal depression. “While traditional ­cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking and high cholesterol are well-recognised, our latest research identifies less obvious, yet crucial risk indicators,” said Oxford’s Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox, lead author.

She adds: “QR4 also helps to address inequalities in health, particularly around learning disabilities, which often coincide with barriers to ­effective health management and access, leading to an increased risk.” The study’s findings reveal more groups of people are more likely to get heart and circulatory diseases than we had previously thought, and should now benefit from treatments and other measures to reduce their risk.

The findings also reveal that women with COPD are at a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases than ­previously understood, says Professor Mona Bafadhel of King’s College London, pointing to the need for targeted cardiovascular monitoring and interventions in these patients.

The QR4 algorithm was rigorously tested against risk assessment tools currently used in both the US and Europe, outperforming them and accurately identifying more of the high-risk patients.

Professor Keith Channon of Oxford University believes: “the new findings will help identify more diverse groups of people who have high cardiovascular risk, enabling them to access interventions and treatments to reduce their risk”.

“The QR4 model potentially sets a new standard in cardiovascular risk assessment,” added Dr Carol Coupland at Oxford and Nottingham Universities and study co-author. This is crucial in a field where early detection can save lives and could significantly impact how we approach prevention on a global scale.”

This new algorithm builds on almost two decades of work and I hope QR4 is adopted by the NHS soon to improve heart health.