SPOKANE, Wash. -- A lot of people are interested in healthy living, but we often do not have that discussion in the doctor's office.
Doctors will check your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels but they don't always have the time to talk about about the lifestyle factors that could put you at risk of a heart attack or stroke.
According to the World Health Organization cardiovascular diseases is the globes biggest killers accounting for over 15 million deaths in 2016. Doctors say most people do not know they have the signs of heart disease until they experience a cardiac event which could be fatal. People can usually get a general sense of how healthy they are based on how they look, but what's inside of you might be aging at a different pace.
Canadian scientists have created an online health calculator that could arm people with information that could help improve their life expectancy. Their process in creating the tool was recently published in the journal Canadian Medical Association Journal.
University of Ottawa researchers used the "big data" approach. They collected information on over a hundred thousand Ontario residents between the ages of 20 to 105 years old from population surveys, census data and hospital records between 2001 to 2007. They then used those numbers to develop and validate the Cardiovascular Disease Population Risk Tool (CVDPoRT), an algorithm that predicts the age of the heart and risk of dying from cardiovascular disease within the next five years .
For example, if their risk is five percent, it means that five in 100 people like them will experience a serious cardiovascular event in the next five years.
The study authors say The CVDPoRT is different from other risk-prediction tools. It considers overall health factors such as socio demographic status like ethnicity and education, as well as environmental influences like air pollution and stress, and lifestyle and behaviors ranging from smoking status to alcohol intake to physical activity, health conditions and more.
Researchers hope the tool will help people understand their health and monitor their lifestyles. They said the calculator policy makers can also use the tool to learn population health risks and help plan for the future like improving access to nutritional food and being able to walk or bike in a community.
Health experts said there are some limitations to consider -- the predictions are based on Canadian data but lifestyle and diets should be relevant to the U.S. The calculation of your heart age and prognosis are not based on objective data such as your family history or medical history such as blood pressure or blood sugar , or cholesterol and triglyceride levels.