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A risk factor is a demographic characteristic associated with an increased risk of ischaemic heart disease when other variables have been controlled. The presence of a risk factor in an individual increases his or her relative risk of a coronary event (angina, infarction or death). The absolute risk of a coronary event depends on the individual’s total number of risk factors and theirseverity (total risk). Important coronary risk factors are shown in Table 1.1. Risk assessment charts have been developed to estimate a patient’s cardiac risk over a number of years using easily identified risk factors. There are charts for different populations. The charts can be used to predict cardiovascular events or mortality (as in the NHF chart in Fig 1.1 on p. 4) or cardiac risk (systematic coronary risk evaluation system or SCORE charts). These charts can be very helpful in deciding when intervention to reduce risk is warranted; for example, when anti-hypertensive treatment should be commenced for a patient with mild blood pressure elevation. Risk factor reduction involves assessing the presence, severity and importance of risk factors for a
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