How Is A Person's Risk Of Developing CHD Estimated?

The CHD (Coronary Heart Disease) risk calculation is based on a scoring system that grew out of the Framingham Heart Study. A person's risk (chance) of developing CHD in the next 10 years is calculated based on the cholesterol level as well as other non-cholesterol risk factors. The non-cholesterol risk factors are classified as highest risk factors, major risk factors, and other risk factors.

The following classification is modified from the new NCEP guidelines published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) (2001).

The highest risk factors include:

  1. Having already developed CHD, as evidenced by a prior heart attack, bypass surgery, etc.
  2. Having already developed arteriosclerosis (hardening and narrowing) in arteries other than the heart. Arteriosclerosis in the other arteries can lead to poor circulation in the lower extremities, aneurysm of the abdominal aorta.

The major risk factors include:

  1. Men over 45 years and women over 55 years
  2. Cigarette-smoking
  3. High blood pressure (BP >140/90 mmHg or taking high blood pressure medications)
  4. HDL cholesterol <40mg/dl
  5. Having first-degree male relatives with CHD (such as a heart attack) before age 55 years and first-degree female relatives with CHD before age 65 years.

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