This risk assessment tool uses information from the Framingham Heart Study to predict a person’s chance of having a heart attack in the next 10 years. This tool is designed for adults aged 20 and older who do not have heart disease or diabetes. To find your risk score, enter your information in the calculator above.
Do you know your heart attack risk?
Heart attacks are a leading cause of death and disability for men and women. In fact, every 34 seconds someone in the United States has one! Being aware of your risk is the first step in making sure that you won’t be a statistic. The Framingham score, a simple risk calculator, is a great place to start.
Let’s begin with a brief review of why heart attacks happen.
The heart is a muscle that needs a steady supply of oxygen-rich blood in order to function. When blood flow to the heart muscle is restricted or completely blocked, it becomes permanently damaged or stops working altogether. This severe damage or death of the heart muscle is called a heart attack or a myocardial infarction (MI).
Though a heart attack happens within a very short window of time, it actually takes many years for blood flow to the heart muscle to become blocked. Just like a pipe gets clogged over time, the arteries that bring blood to the heart can get clogged up with a waxy substance made up of fat and cholesterol (also called a “plaque”). Anything that makes these plaques develop and grow is considered a risk factor for a heart attack.
Know your risk
What risk factors do you have? It’s important to know so you can take action. The Framingham risk score uses the following risk factors identified from the Framingham Heart Study to predict your chance of having a heart attack within the next 10 years.
- Age (risk increases with age)
Gender (men have a higher risk than women)
High blood pressure (140/90 or greater or taking blood pressure medication)
High total cholesterol (>200 mg/dL)
Low HDL cholesterol (<40 mg/dL)
How is the Framingham score used?
The Framingham score is designed for anyone who is 20 years of age and older and does not have heart disease or diabetes. [Heart disease and diabetes already place a person in a high risk category].
You can access the calculator at: (insert link)
Your Framingham score is a percentage that will fall into one of three categories. This percentage is the chance that you will have a heart attack in the next 10 years:
Low risk- less than 10%
Medium risk- 10 to 20%
High risk- over 20%
This score can help your healthcare provider decide the best way for you to lower your risk of a heart attack. You may be advised to make certain changes to your lifestyle, take medication, or do both depending on your level of risk.
A low risk score is reassuring, but it doesn’t mean you are off the hook. No matter what your percentage, it is always important to achieve (or maintain) a healthy weight, embrace an active lifestyle, and eat a healthy diet in order to lower your risk of having a heart attack.
Are you ready to make a change? ACE wellness offerings include a number of tools and calculators to help you meet your health and fitness-related goals. (insert link)
American Heart Association. (2012). About heart attacks. Available at http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/AboutHeartAttacks/About-Heart-Attacks_UCM_002038_Article.jsp. Retrieved on October 26, 2013.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2013). Risk assessment tool for estimating your 10-year risk of having a heart attack. Available at http://cvdrisk.nhlbi.nih.gov/calculator.asp. Retrieved on October 25, 2013.