I was contacted by Juliet Dobson at the British Medical Journal recently, who asked me for a heart patient’s perspective on a new cardiovascular risk calculator. It’s been launched by the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS), and claims that it can tell you your real heart age. Here’s what I wrote . . .
Although the JBS3 risk calculator is designed to be used by physicians and other health care providers to help guide their patients in reducing risks of future heart disease, you can check out this calculator online (entering data fields from before your diagnosis if you’re already a heart patient) and let us know how accurate its predictions were. (Readers: remember that unless you live in Canada or Europe, change the cholesterol values to mg/dL).
As you can imagine, the accuracy of heart disease risk calculators is tricky, as I’ve written about here, here and here. And I have yet to find even one so far that even asks about a woman’s history of pregnancy complications (a significant risk factor for heart disease).
Many physicians like the calculator called The Absolute CVD Risk/Benefit Calculator, developed by Dr. James McCormack at Vancouver‘s Therapeutics Education Collaboration (at the University of British Columbia). Internal medicine specialist Dr. John McConnell, for example, calls this one “the best risk calculator I’ve found!” Mayo Clinic also has a good patient decision aid called The Statin Choice Decision Aid, a tool that can help you and your doctor discuss if you should be taking statin drugs or not.
NOTE FROM CAROLYN: In my book, “A Woman’s Guide to Living with Heart Disease“ (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017), I wrote much more about women’s risk factors and cardiac warning signs. You can ask for this book at your local library or favourite bookshop, or order it online (paperback, hardcover or e-book) at Amazon, or order it directly from Johns Hopkins University Press (Use their code HTWN to get free shipping and save 20% off the list price when you order).
Q: Heart patients, if you completed the JBS3 calculator, how well did it predict your own diagnosis?