Cardiovascular diseases (CVD), like heart attack and stroke, are one of the four main types of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), NCDs kill 38 million people each year — and Globorisk, a newly developed risk factor equation, might reduce these numbers.

Researchers responsible for the equation said tracking risk factors and “offering risk-based multidrug treatment and counseling are cost-effective interventions for reduction of NCDs.” In order to measure global progress, they need sets of data from different countries. And in order to get the right amount of information, researchers’ analyzed eight prospective cohort studies (more than 50,000 participants), including the Honolulu Heart Program, Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial, and Women’s Health Initiative Clinical Trial.

The equations — one for fatal CVD and another for fatal plus non-fatal CVD — factored in predictors, such as smoking, blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, as well as the effects age and sex had on CVD worldwide over a span of 10 years in 11 different countries. The results showed risk of fatal CVD was lowest in South Korea, Spain, Japan, and Denmark, while it was highest in the Czech Republic, China, Iran, and Mexico.

Additionally, in low risk countries, only five to 10 percent of men and women had more than a 10 percent risk for fatal CVD. But researchers found in China, 33 percent of men and 28 percent of women had a 10 percent risk or higher.  Overall, CVD was worse for men and women in developing countries versus developed ones. Though that’s not to say develop countries are better off; a portion of the population in the United States, England, Japan, Denmark, and Spain  face high risk of CVD.

"This new tool allows healthcare professionals around the world to make optimal clinical decisions about treatment of their patients and for health policy makers to efficiently allocate resources to CVD prevention," said Goodarz Danaei, assistant professor of global health at Harvard Chan School, said in a press release.

Danaei and his team added their “risk-prediction equation and their accompanying risk charts…can be used to identify individual patients who are at high risk of CVD and thus need treatment, and to estimate the number of such people in a country,” which is needed to progress towards reduced NCDs.

The study, however, has some limitations. For one, researchers said they would like to replicate their analysis with more diverse regions (the ones in the present study were mostly from US territories), as well as use data linkage or sentinel sites in order to monitor CVD incidence (which is often done in cancer studies).

Globorisk will be available later this year.

Source: Hajifathalian K, Ueda P, et al. A novel risk score to predict cardiovascular disease risk in national populations (Globorisk): a pooled analysis of prospective cohorts and health examination surveys. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinal, 2015.