The National Lipid Association (NLA) recently released an ‘infographic’ that, according to the person who contacted me on behalf of the NLA, is intended “to help people better understand their cholesterol to help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.”
And indeed, I think it’s a very useful chart. Essentially, it helps you visualize your heart disease risk by turning the major risk factors into a series of easy questions; these questions help determine your heart disease risk and serve as a basis for discussion with your doctor:
You can also find this chart on the National Lipid Association’s “Learn Your Lipid”
The new cholesterol treatment guidelines were unveiled on November 12, 2013 and controversy flared almost immediately.
A duo of doctors are concerned that the new calculator used in one part of the guidelines seriously over-estimates heart disease risk (the calculator delivers a person’s 10-year risk of heart disease: the new guidelines state those with a risk above 7.5% should take a statin). If they are right, the result would be millions of new people taking a statin — who maybe don’t need this drug.
A serious concern, indeed.
Am about to go into a bit of detail about why it might be over-calculating: if you know already/have been following in the news (or don’t care for the details) skip down to BOLD below!
Did you know there are quick, easy-to-use, online calculators that will tell you how likely you are to have a heart attack in the next 10 years?
There are several, in fact. Most of these online risk calculators are based on the Framingham risk score, which assesses heart disease risk in the next 10 years based on six pieces of information: age, sex, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, smoking status and systolic blood pressure.
The Reynolds risk score goes beyond the Framingham risk score. In addition to all the factors required by the Framingham risk score, the Reynolds risk score asks for C-reactive protein test results (which are not included in a typical lipid panel) and whether a parent had a heart attack before age 60.