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New Tool May Predict Your Risk of Heart Disease

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iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — Most people would want to know if they have an increased risk of a heart attack, and now researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have developed an online tool that may help individuals predict their risk as well as help them learn how lifestyle choices influence the danger.

The researchers examined health data from approximately 100,000 people over 20 years to develop a risk model. They then developed a 5-minute online assessment tool called The Healthy Heart Score to illustrate how a person’s diet, exercise level, and habits play a role in heart disease risk.

The tool asks users a series of questions about their lifestyle, such as “Do you smoke cigarettes?” and “During the past year, how often, on average, do you eat a serving of fruit?” Users receive a risk score of low, moderate, or high, along with tips for improvement.

The score is based on nine critical diet and lifestyle factors that can impact a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the next 20 years.  The factors include smoking, weight, exercise, and intake of alcohol, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, sugary beverages, and red and processed meat.

Medical observers note this is the first tool of its kind designed to help otherwise healthy individuals and their doctors determine long-term risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

The study was published online Nov. 14 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.


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