Rush cardiologist puts heart disease prevention in the palm of your hand

March 17, 2001

Combining prevention for heart disease with personal digital technology, a cardiologist from Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center unveiled a heart disease risk factor program that allows doctors to easily assess their patients' real heart age compared to their actual chronological age.

Dr. Michael Davidson, director of preventive cardiology at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, today presented a Palm-based program that doctors can use to calculate the true heart age of their patients. The presentation was given at the 2001 American College of Cardiology Scientific Meeting in New Orleans.

The program, called, uses the risk factors developed by the Framingham Heart Risk Study to determine overall risk factors for heart disease. Davidson said the program works by using information compiled by the doctors from a patient's medical history and known risk factors. Then, the program sorts through each risk factor, giving appropriate weight to each. Finally, the end result is a theoretical "age" of the patient's heart, which can be compared to the patient's actual age. Davidson gave an example of how the program might work.

"Let's take the case of a 40-year-old male with a family history of heart disease, cigarette smoking, blood pressure of 140/80, is 5 feet, nine inches and has HDL of 35 and LDL of 160 and total cholesterol of 220 and calcium blockage of 50," he said. "This patient, who is only 40 chronological years of age, is the equivalent of a 73 year old man, based on the risk factors," Davidson said. Davidson said that if your heart age is higher than your real age, even by one year, you should be concerned.

"Real age is what you should shoot for if you had no risk factors," he said. The Palm technology gives physicians a ready platform to gauge risk factors immediately and in a way that makes sense to patients.

"Most patients understand the risk associated with serum cholesterol for heart disease-a patient may feel that a total cholesterol of 210 is not seriously elevated, but a cholesterol of 310 is reason for alarm," Davidson said. "Plus, most people don't like the thought of aging, so when you tell them their heart is actually "older" than they are, it can be quite alarming and it tends to get their attention." In addition to using the program on a personal digital assistant, doctors can link the data to their office or clinic computers and track the progress of patients over time, monitoring their risk factors and adjusting for changes in their patient's health. He added that the plan is to have 1,000 doctors using the program and funneling the information to a central server so that doctors can compare patients to national averages.

Nationwide, according to the American Heart Association, almost 60 million Americans have one or more forms of cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction (acute heart attack), chest pain, stroke and rheumatic fever/rheumatic heart disease.
Contact: Chris Martin
John Pontarelli (on 3/18, page 312-689-1113)

Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center includes the 809-bed Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital; 154-bed Johnston R. Bowman Health Center for the Elderly; Rush University (Rush Medical College, College of Nursing, College of Health Sciences and Graduate College); and seven Rush Institutes providing diagnosis, treatment and research into leading health problems. The medical center is the tertiary hub of the Rush System for Health, a comprehensive healthcare system capable of serving about two million people through its outpatient facilities and five member hospitals.

Rush University Medical Center

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