American Heart Association removes race from heart disease risk calculator

The American Heart Association plans to unveil a new heart disease risk calculator where race is no longer considered a factor. 

On Nov. 10, the AHA published an equation that, for the first time, can predict a person's risk of cardiovascular disease for the next 30 years. An online tool for calculating individual risk of heart attacks, strokes and heart failure is in development. 

The risk calculation is race-free because of a growing consensus that the connection between race and cardiovascular problems is a social construct rather than a clinical finding, the AHA said. 

"Part of the rationale for [historical] race-specific equations was that race was considered a proxy or substitute for the lived experience of racism and its potential health effects," Sadiya Khan, MD, chair of the statement writing committee for the AHA, said in a news release. "However, we were concerned that the inclusion of race as a proxy may still be harmful."

Black patients are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease compared to white patients, but removing the factor can "reduce the potential for race-specific treatment decisions," the association said. 

Other differences to the new calculation tool are the inclusion of heart failure risk, accounting for kidney functions and an index for social determinants of health.

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