July 23 (UPI) -- A new online health calculator is available that can predict a person's heart age and risk for heart disease based on a variety of factors.
Researchers developed and validated the Cardiovascular Disease Population Risk Tool, or CVDPoRT, based on data from the Canadian Community Health Surveys of 104,219 Ontario residents, who were between age 20 and 105. The surveys also included data from 2001 to 2007 of hospitalizations and deaths.
"What sets this cardiovascular risk calculator apart is that it looks at healthy living, and it is better calibrated to the Canadian population," lead author Dr. Doug Manuel, a senior scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and a senior core scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, said in a press release.
Using the calculator, users can predict their risk of hospitalization or death from cardiovascular disease within the next five years. The calculator also provides heart age vs. actual age.
The tool considers many factors: age, smoking status and lifetime exposure, alcohol consumption diet, physical activity, stress, sense of belonging, ethnicity, immigration status, education, socioeconomic status of the neighborhood, diabetes, high blood pressure.
"A lot of people are interested in healthy living, but often we don't have that discussion in the doctor's office," said Manuel, a professor at the University of Ottawa. "Doctors will check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but they don't necessarily ask about lifestyle factors that could put you at risk of a heart attack and stroke."
He said the tool can be helpful to patients and medical personnel.
"We hope this tool can help people -- and their care team -- with better information about healthy living and options for reducing their risk of heart attack and strokes," he said.
Although the tool is set up for use in Canada, it can be adapted for countries around the world using data from there, the scientists said.