Socio-economic status important in heart disease risk

June 19th, 2009 - 3:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 19 (IANS) Doctors who ignore the education and income levels of patients when assessing their risk for heart disease may be missing an important factor that might result in inadequate treatment, according to latest research.
Most doctors use the Framingham Risk Scoring (FRS) model to evaluate the risk of heart disease. The study, conducted by the University of Rochester Medical Centre, found that the FRS method did not accurately predict whether a person of low income and/or less than a high school education would develop heart disease or die in the next ten years.

The study said that asking about socio-economic status when evaluating risk factors can potentially increase the number of patients eligible for cholesterol-lowering medications, aspirin therapy, and changes in diet and exercise by approximately 15 percent.

The proportion of low-income and low-education patients at risk for death or disease during the next ten years was nearly double that of people with higher socio-economic status when education and income were added into the FRS risk assessment.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the effect of adding socio-economic status to the typical risk assessment in the US” said lead author Kevin Fiscella.

He added that “Our study clearly implies that we should re-calibrate the threshold for deciding who’s eligible for statins (drugs that lower cholesterol), by including socio-economic status as another risk factor.

The research was published in the June 2009 issue of American Heart Journal.

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