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Many of us are generally familiar with some of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease (which include conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and elevated cholesterol, and behaviours like smoking or sedentary lifestyle).
But have you ever wondered how exactly these all work together? Or what your specific, personal risk is? Or how modifying one or more of these factors might impact your overall risk?
The ACC (American College of Cardiology) developed an app for estimating just this!
You can find here, as well as on your phone’s app store.
I highly recommend that you give it a visit!
By plugging in information including age, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, smoking status, etc. you can see the impact that changing one or multiple of these variables (e.g. lowering one’s blood pressure, or developing type II diabetes) is estimated to have on a person’s cardiovascular risk. I have found this tool to be uniquely eye-opening as well as motivating for patients with risk factors for ASCVD (atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease). “Numbers-people” might find it interesting to tinker with various hypotheticals and see how it changes the output!
You already know that I am passionate in my belief of the power of exercise (and other lifestyle factors, like diet) to help prevent heart disease and many of the conditions that lead to it!
However, it is important that we recognize the importance of genetics as well. Factors like blood pressure and cholesterol in particular can be strongly influenced by genetics. Sometimes people with good behaviours still get dealt a rough hand, genetically speaking. In some cases, medications may be necessary in addition to an excellent lifestyle, in order to effectively reduce risk. That’s why it’s so important that even “healthy people” get checked, and know where they stand!
Disclaimer: the app is useful as a tool, but only provides estimates based on data collected from other people. Please see the website above for more information about its limitations. If you know or think you might be at elevated risk for ASCVD, please talk to a doctor.