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Rasmussen score method finds heart disease earlier

February 25, 2012
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Coronary heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Minnesota. Cardiologists, like Daniel Duprez, hope to stop this trend by using a different scoring system to detect heart disease before it attacks.

As February marks American Heart Month, University of Minnesota cardiologists are tooting the Rasmussen score, developed at the University, as a more effective scoring system than the Framingham Risk Score, according to a report released in September.

“This score is better because the previous score identifies the risks rather than on the presence of early disease,” Jay Cohn said.

The Rasmussen Score is tailored to fit each individual person and discover his or her specific risks, Duprez said.

The Framingham Risk Score, originally developed in 1998, assesses the 10-year risk that an individual will have coronary heart disease based on factors like age, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

For the Rasmussen score, it takes about an hour for the patients to be tested by examining the health of arteries and the heart, performing ultrasounds, photographic wave form analysis and exercise, as well as urine and blood tests.

The score puts patients into three different groupings based on their scores — the higher the number, the more at risk the patient is to develop heart disease.

The results from the research suggest that the three groupings identify three populations with extreme differences in health.

“Our hypothesis before this paper was that those three groupings would be discriminating. The paper has proved we were right,” Cohn said.

By placing patients in three different categories, the Rasmussen score is able to tell the patient what they should be doing for their health. Scores can range between 0-20 with 0-2 as evidence of no disease, 3-5 as evidence of early disease and 6 and above as evidence of advanced disease.

According to the study published in the Journal of the American Society of Hypertension, not only were there 700 patients assessed with the Rasmussen score, they were also tested with the Framingham Risk Score.

One major difference between the two methods is that the Framingham Risk Score puts heavy emphasis on the age of the patient. The Rasmussen score, however, does not use age as a deciding factor.

Cohn recommends that everyone be screened every five years, even if they show no signs of health problems or have no family history of heart disease.

The test is relatively inexpensive and is usually covered by insurance.

“Too much money and energy has been spent on treating and preventing heart disease,” Duprez said.

Minnesotans rang up more than $1.79 billion in hospitalization charges due to heart disease in 2009, according to data from the Minnesota Department of Health.

Although this test has been proven by the study to be more effective at preventing heart disease than the previous scoring method, Cohn does not believe it will completely replace the old method.

“I think this should help in getting the medical community to accept our early disease detection as preferable to traditional risk factor assessment,” Cohn said.

Article source: http://www.mndaily.com/2012/02/23/u-method-finds-heart-disease-earlier

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