A score based on common blood tests may someday help people gauge their risk of developing a chronic disease like diabetes or dementia within three years of taking the test.
The Intermountain Chronic Disease Risk Score was 77 to 78 percent accurate in predicting whether someone would be diagnosed with diabetes, kidney failure, coronary artery disease and dementia, among other illnesses. It's based on the results of a comprehensive metabolic panel, which includes tests for blood glucose and liver function, and complete blood count, which measures the quantity of different types of blood cells.
The hope is that the score could eventually help physicians better allocate their time and resources, says Heidi May, a cardiovascular epidemiologist with the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, and principal investigator of the study. For example, a patient whose score puts her in the high-risk group might get more intense patient education about lifestyle or other prevention measures, and a follow-up visit in six months rather than a year.
The tests used in the score are commonly performed at checkups, and the score itself can be calculated by the hospital's electronic health record, making it easier for doctors to use. "Clinicians are so busy and have to worry about so many things," says May. The so-called ICHRON score is similar to risk scores previously developed and now used by Intermountain Healthcare, a nonprofit hospital system, to predict the future risk of death, hospital readmission and serious disease.
The research was presented last month at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology.