Simple, common BMI data stored in e-records can identify patients with heart disease risk

March 13, 2012 By Sharyn Alden

Electronic medical records provide new opportunities to monitor and improve patients’ health. New research released online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that body mass index (BMI) data, commonly available in electronic medical records, can accurately identify adults between 30 and 74 years-old at risk for cardiovascular (heart) disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.

Previously, calculating relied on access to information on and blood pressure levels, tobacco use, and the presence of diabetes. These risk factors are frequently associated with a famous long-term study of heart disease known as the “Framingham” study.

This is the first study to compare using electronic BMI data only or using cholesterol screening results  to identify patients in a large health care system that were at moderate and high risk for heart disease.

Researchers looked at electronic health data for 122,270 patients without heart disease. Risk scores calculated using only BMI data were similar to patients with lab-based cholesterol data for nearly 80 percent of the patients. In low risk patients, BMI correctly classified risk 99 percent of the time.

“BMI can predict whether a person is likely to be categorized as moderate or high risk for cardiovascular disease and possibly need medications to lower cholesterol,” said Beverly B. Green, M.D., lead author of the Group Health Research Institute at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Green points out not every adult who is at risk for heart disease has had a cholesterol test.  “Lack of laboratory data for cholesterol is the most common reason for not being able to calculate cardiovascular disease risk,” she said.  In our research about 40 percent of adults 30-74 did not have a cholesterol test, however, most people had a BMI in their electronic records and this could be used instead of cholesterol to calculate CVD risk.”

are important in the assessment of risk factors because doctors can show the patient their trends to motivate them to start making lifestyle changes,” commented Niece Goldberg, M.D., cardiologist and director of the Joan Tisch Center for Women’s Health at New York University Medical Center.

Green added, “By using electronic health records, we can learn a lot about what really makes a difference in the lives and health of individual patients. A patient might ask if they really need a screening test or treatment based on their risk factors. Electronic can help identify who may really benefit from getting a lab or screening test or treatment as well as helping doctors better care for their entire patient population.”

Explore further: Heart healthy choices early on pay off later

More information: Green, B. B., et al. (2012). Using Body Mass Index Data in the Electronic Health Record to Calculate Cardiovascular Risk. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, In Press.

Related Stories

Heart healthy choices early on pay off later

March 2, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Maintaining a healthy lifestyle from young adulthood into your 40s is strongly associated with low cardiovascular disease risk in middle age, according to a new Northwestern Medicine study.

New formula developed to reassure patients about low heart attack risk

November 16, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- If your doctor says you have a negative stress test, or that your cholesterol or blood pressure are normal, how assured can you be that you’re not likely to have a heart attack in the next seven to ...

Arthritis sufferers at increased risk of heart disease

August 15, 2011
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) sufferers are at an increased risk of dying due to cardiovascular disease. A new five year study published in BioMed Central's open access journal Arthritis Research & Therapy showed that the risk ...

Recommended for you

To reduce postoperative pain, consider sleep—and caffeine

August 18, 2017
Sleep is essential for good mental and physical health, and chronic insufficient sleep increases the risk for several chronic health problems.

Despite benefits, half of parents against later school start times

August 18, 2017
Leading pediatrics and sleep associations agree: Teens shouldn't start school so early.

Doctors exploring how to prescribe income security

August 18, 2017
Physicians at St. Michael's Hospital are studying how full-time income support workers hired by health-care clinics can help vulnerable patients or those living in poverty improve their finances and their health.

Schoolchildren who use e-cigarettes are more likely to try tobacco

August 17, 2017
Vaping - or the use of e-cigarettes - is widely accepted as a safer option for people who are already smoking.

Federal snack program does not yield expected impacts, researchers find

August 17, 2017
A well-intentioned government regulation designed to offer healthier options in school vending machines has failed to instill better snacking habits in a sample of schools in Appalachian Virginia, according to a study by ...

Study shows cigarette makers shifted stance on nicotine patches, gum

August 17, 2017
The use of nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers or nasal sprays—together called "nicotine replacement therapy," or NRT—came into play in 1984 as prescription medicine, which when combined with counseling, helped ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.