Why You Should Ask Your Doc to Reevaluate Your Risk for Heart Disease

A recent study found a lack of diversity in heart disease diagnosis guidelines.

Why You Should Ask Your Doc to Reevaluate Your Risk for Heart Disease

The Cleveland Clinic’s 232-page Diversity Tool Kit is a modern, global guide, from “A” Aboriginal People to “Z” Zoroastrian, for healthcare providers interacting with a patient and his or her family members. The recognition that healthcare professionals need to offer appropriately individualized interaction with patients is essential to providing the best care possible.

Unfortunately, pooled cohort equations (PCEs) that are used by doctors to form risk-estimations for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD) are not so forward-thinking or inclusive. The current 2013 guidelines that help your doc decide if you need a statin, blood pressure meds or to take daily aspirin use data on people from the 1940s and are woefully non-inclusive of people of color.

A new study led by Stanford University researchers says by updating the data used to form the 2013 PCEs, approximately 11.8 million US adults previously labeled high-risk (their 10-year risk of a heart attack, stroke or death from CVD is greater than 7.5 percent) would be identified as lower-risk. That will save patients worry, money and unnecessary exposure to risks associated with blood-pressure- and cholesterol-lowering meds and aspirin.

However, “while many Americans were being recommended aggressive treatments that they may not have needed . . . some Americans—particularly African Americans—may have been given false reassurance and probably need to start treatment given our findings,” says Stanford’s Sanjay Basu, MD, PhD.

So at your next check-up, ask your doc to reexamine your CVD risk factors and determine if they do in fact need medication to prevent heart attack or stroke.

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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