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Researchers develop heart failure risk assessment tool

February 5, 2014
by Richard R. Rogoski
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Researchers at UCLA have developed an easy-to-use risk calculator that can help predict the chances of heart failure patients to live five years or longer. The tool also provides healthcare providers with information they need to develop appropriate treatments.

The research team used data from 2,255 heart failure patients who had been referred to the Ahmanson–UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center between 2000 and 2011 and looked at 39 patient variables including age, weight, medications, lab work and the results of diagnostic tests such as echocardiography, according to a press release. They then assessed each variable to predict a series of risks including mortality, the need for an urgent transplant and the need for a ventricular assist device. Using statistical analysis, they determined that four of the 39 factors were predictive of these risks in both men and women and could predict survival over a five-year period.

"We were extremely surprised that the same exact top predictors of risk were identical in both men and women," said senior author Tamara Horwich, MD, an assistant professor of medicine in the cardiology division at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "We ultimately only needed to create one unified heart failure risk model for both sexes."

Horwich also said the team is currently working to develop a phone app of the calculator so that physicians could enter the four risk factors for a particular patient and get their annual survival risk for up to five years.