In the U.S., someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers at UF are attempting to lower this figure. 

UF researchers developed a new assessment, Easy Cardiovascular Disease (EZ-CVD) Health Risk Assessment, which can predict the 10-year risk of a heart attack or stroke with a few questions.

The EZ-CVD is made up of six questions: age, sex, diagnosis of diabetes or high blood pressure, family history of premature heart attacks and current smoking status. 

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.

The standard cardiovascular disease risk assessment focuses on the Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease (ASCVD). This assessment requires those taking it to know their current blood pressure and cholesterol levels, according to the American College of Cardiology. The extra lab appointment to get blood pressure and cholesterol levels can be discouraging to patients. The American Heart Association said the EZ-CVD bypasses these extra steps and allows users to receive their results in one visit, and it can even be completed online.   

Ara Jo is a member of the research development team for the EZ-CVD. The study began one year ago and was initiated by Hend Mansoor, recent graduate of UF’s health services research Ph.D. program, for her doctoral dissertation, according to Jo.

She said the research was conducted based on existing literature review. First, they analyzed existing CVD risk scores. It turned out that there was no score-utilizing survey from patients, which lead the team to create a patient-centered score, Jo said. The research team used the national longitudinal database called the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC) and advanced statistical skills to develop the score. 

She also said the EZ-CVD does not diagnose. Users whose scores reflect high risk are encouraged to share the information with their doctors. 

Julianne Jankowski, a 19-year-old UF art sophomore, said she has a family history on her dad’s side of cardiovascular disease. In December 2015, Jankowski’s father suffered from a major heart attack and was rushed to the hospital.

“It was the worst day of my life,” she said.

She said her father is healthy now, but that moment in her life still remains a reminder of how life can be taken away without warning. She plans to take the EZ-CVD due to her family’s history. 

“If my dad would have been more aware of early signs he would have probably lived differently,” she said. So maybe something like this wouldn’t have happened to him. I do think this assessment would have been really valuable to him.”

The free EZ-CVD assessment can be taken on the UF Health Services Research, Management and Policy website before a medical appointment.

Contact Christopher S. Cann at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @chrstophercann.