In a new study, researchers found that in the U.S., more than 11 million people may experience incorrect prescriptions for aspirin, statins and blood pressure drugs.
The finding is from an updated set of calculations used to determine the risk of a heart attack or stroke. The calculations (pooled cohort equations, or PCEs).
The research was done by a team from Stanford University.
PCEs are the foundation for cardiovascular-disease-prevention guidelines. They can estimate the risk a person may have for a heart attack or stroke.
The calculations can help doctors decide whether they should prescribe aspirin, blood pressure or statin drugs.
Most doctors calculate a patient’s risk using a PCE web calculator or a smartphone app.
The equations are also built into many electronic health records to estimate a patient’s risk during a clinic visit.
In the study, the team found that PCEs may be done using outdated data and calculate the disease risk incorrectly. This can put some patients at risk for over- or under-treatment.
For instance one of the main data set for deriving the original equations uses information from people who were 30-62 years old in 1948.
These people were 100 to 132 years old in 2018, and most of them are likely dead.
In addition, there is a lot has changed in terms of diets, environments and medical treatment since the 1940s.
Using old data to estimate people’s risk can be risky and overestimate people’s disease risk.
The old data also may not have a sufficient sample of African-Americans.
The researchers say it is important to update the PCEs with newer data to improve the accuracy of heart disease risk estimates.
The study is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
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