Cardiology

Silent heart attack may increase stroke risk

While heart attacks that cause classic symptoms such as pressure and pain in the chest are an established risk factor for stroke because they can lead to blood clot formation, new research by Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian ...

Health

Eating healthily at work matters

A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published by Elsevier, demonstrated that employees at a large urban hospital who purchased the least healthy food in its cafeteria were more likely to have an unhealthy ...

Cardiology

Blood proteins help predict risk of developing heart failure

Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of pain, suffering and death in the United States, and despite tremendous advances in knowledge on prevention, treatment of risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure ...

Cardiology

What happens to young adults after a first heart attack?

Heart attacks among adults younger than 50 years of age are on the rise. In fact, the proportion of very young people has been increasing, rising by 2 percent each year for the last 10 years, according to a team of investigators ...

Diseases, Conditions, Syndromes

Rocky mountain spotted fever risks examined

In Mexicali, Mexico, an uncontrolled epidemic of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, one of the deadliest tickborne diseases in the Americas, has affected more than 1,000 people since 2008.

Alzheimer's disease & dementia

Weight gain and loss may worsen dementia risk in older people

Older people who experience significant weight gain or weight loss could be raising their risk of developing dementia, suggests a study from Korea published today in the online journal BMJ Open.

Neuroscience

Long-term decline in stroke greater in older adults

Although the occurrence of first-ever ischemic stroke (strokes due to a blood clot that blocks a blood vessel in the brain) at middle age has been decreasing over time, researchers have found that the decline is not as steep ...

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Risk factor

A risk factor is a variable associated with an increased risk of disease or infection. Risk factors are correlational and not necessarily causal, because correlation does not imply causation. For example, being young cannot be said to cause measles, but young people are more at risk as they are less likely to have developed immunity during a previous epidemic.

Risk factors are evaluated by comparing the risk of those exposed to the potential risk factor to those not exposed. Let's say that at a wedding, 74 people ate the chicken and 22 of them were ill, while of the 35 people who had the fish or vegetarian meal only 2 were ill. Did the chicken make the people ill?

So the chicken eaters' risk = 22/74 = 0.297 And non-chicken eaters' risk = 2/35 = 0.057.

Those who ate the chicken had a risk over five times as high as those who did not, suggesting that eating chicken was the cause of the illness. Note, however, that this is not proof. Statistical methods would be used in a less clear cut case to decide what level of risk the risk factor would have to present to be able to say the risk factor is linked to the disease (for example in a study of the link between smoking and lung cancer). Even then, no amount of statistical analysis could prove that the risk factor causes the disease; this could only be proven using direct methods such as a medical explanation of the disease's roots.

The earliest use of risk factor analysis dates back to Avicenna's The Canon of Medicine (1020s), though the term "risk factor" was first coined by heart researcher Dr. Thomas R. Dawber in a landmark scientific paper in 1961, where he attributed heart disease to specific conditions (blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking).

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