By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS

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A patient’s age and results from routine blood tests might be enough to give doctors a window into the future by creating a score that measures chronic disease risk, a new study suggests.

Researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City say the impact could be extensive, since more than half of U.S. adults suffer from one or more chronic diseases and projections show a 40 percent increase in chronic disease cases in the next decade.

The Intermountain Chronic Disease Risk Score, or ICHRON, can predict the first diagnosis of common chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney failure, coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, atrial fibrillation, stroke, dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the study found.

The study found ICHRON predictions were 78 percent accurate in identifying patients who will be diagnosed with a chronic disease within three years of testing. The results may mean that high-risk patients get more personalized care and avoid serious complications from heart attacks or strokes caused by high blood pressure or unmanaged diabetes.

“If a patient received a high ICHRON score, the clinician could plan to see the patient more frequently or be more aggressive with treatments,” Heidi May, Ph.D., the study’s principal investigator and a cardiovascular epidemiologist at the center’s Heart Institute, said in a news release. “Or if the patient had a low ICHRON score, they could potentially be seen less often or their care providers could forego a test they were considering.”

May and her team studied patients with no history of chronic disease. Women with moderate ICHRON scores were three times more likely to be diagnosed with a chronic disease compared to those with a low ICHRON score, while those with a high ICHRON score were 11 times more likely to be diagnosed. Males with a moderate score were 5.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with a chronic disease within three years, and those with a high ICHRON score were 14 times more likely to be diagnosed compared to those with a low ICHRON score, researchers said.

Another benefit is that patients’ healthcare costs could decrease dramatically, according to researchers.

The results were presented Friday at the American College of Cardiology’s 66th Annual Scientific Session.