‘Separate risk predictors for stroke, heart attack needed’

Health Watch

A STUDY has called for separate stroke and heart attack risk predictors to improve the understanding of those at risk.
The study was led by associate professor Susan Wells from the University of Auckland and involved Victoria University of Wellington’s Dr Denise Taylor.
The study reported that separate risk equations were needed to help older people understand how to lower their risk of strokes and heart attacks.
The University of Auckland health research council-funded study was published last Friday in the British Journal of General Practice.
Dr Taylor said the research indicated that more individualised risk scores for cardiovascular disease were needed, including advice from clinicians.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death in older people and the risk increases with age.
Study participants were unaware that CVD could be predicted and therefore prevented.
All, but two of the 39 participants in the study wanted to know their CVD risk, and more specifically, their risk of stroke and of heart attack as separate events.
“The two believed their fate was in God’s hands,” Dr Taylor, a senior lecturer in the school of nursing, midwifery and health practice, said.
“Many participants did not realise the cardiovascular disease risk score also included risk of stroke, a disease they found more worrying than a heart attack.
“Many thought a heart attack was treatable with stents or a bypass – it happens and then it’s fixed, or it causes less dependency or a swifter death.
“A stroke was perceived differently – many had seen the impacts of this on other family members.
“They were aware this could reduce their mobility and independence and felt they could become a burden to their family.
“Many did not know these conditions could be prevented with medication.
“We suggest a more individualised approach may help people understand their own risks more clearly and empower them to make lifestyle changes to reduce their risk, as well as regularly taking preventative medication.”