Researchers Develop Easy Calculator to Gauge Risk of Heart Attack: How Do You Score? Simple Point Score and CT Image Combine to Form Valuable Prevention Tool

NEW YORK, NY Aug. 19, 2002 --Scientists led by Gerd Assmann, M.D. at the Institute of Arteriosclerosis Research in Muenster, Germany have come up with a simple point-scoring scheme that any doctor can use to accurately determine his or her patient's risk of heart attack in a simple calculation.

This formula is the result of 20 years of intense research, recently published in the American medical journal "Circulation." Assmann is now combining the simple calculator with advanced CT technology from Siemens Medical Solutions to create a powerful tool for identifying high-risk patients before heart attacks occur.

"Despite great strides in medicine, about half of all heart attack victims still die within four weeks of their first attack," Assmann said. "There is an enormous need to identify patients at risk so that even the first heart attack can be prevented. Such prevention is relatively inexpensive, but the cost of medical and surgical treatment following heart attack increases rapidly."

The Prospective Cardiovascular Muenster (PROCAM) calculator looks at the many factors that contribute to heart attack risk, including age, gender, blood lipids, high blood pressure, family history, smoking and diabetes. In the PROCAM study, Assmann and colleagues studied more than 30,000 men and women working in large companies and the public service in Muenster and the adjacent northern Ruhr valley region. Of the almost 60 factors that were measured in all participants at recruitment into PROCAM, eight turned out to be necessary to accurately predict heart attack risk.

The problem until now has been that these factors had to be combined using a complicated mathematical formula in order to calculate risk. Now Assmann and his colleagues Paul Cullen and Helmut Schulte have succeeded in converting this complex formula into a simple score requiring nothing more than the addition of points, while retaining the same level of accuracy. Although it was developed in men, the PROCAM score can also be used in women, with a correction being made to account for their lower absolute risk of heart attack compared to men.

In the U.S., there has been great interest recently in the use of fast CT scans as a screening measure for coronary heart disease. This is partially due to the fact that technological advancements have improved the ability to see inside the heart.

New CT technology from Siemens, called SOMATOM Sensation 16, uses "16-slice" technology to allow for four-times more speed, real-time reconstruction, and higher image resolution than today's standard machines. The increased speed provides a dramatic difference when taking pictures of the heart, which is especially difficult since the heart is always moving. Because the image quality increases significantly, doctors are now capable of seeing soft coronary plaques at the earliest stages, long known by researchers to be the best indicator of risk for acute heart attacks.

In results presented at the 6th International Symposium on Global Risk of Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke in Florence, Italy this past June, Assmann reports on the value of CT scanning in patients with a high PROCAM risk score. In men in the top 5th of the score, no fewer than 82% had lesions in their blood vessels indicative of coronary heart disease on CT scan, while men in the bottom fifth of the score were free of such lesions. Assmann leads a team of interdisciplinary researchers at the University of Muenster.

Assmann sees the combination of the PROCAM score and CT scanning being used to more accurately determine risk of heart disease and implement preventive measures. "CT scanning for quantification of hard and soft coronary lesions in individuals at risk, as determined by the PROCAM score, is a valuable and non-invasive means of finding those patients who urgently require medical or even surgical treatment to prevent an imminent heart attack," Assmann said.

Siemens Medical Solutions of Siemens AG (NYSE: SI), with headquarters in Erlangen, Germany, is one of the largest suppliers to the healthcare industry in the world. The company is renowned for its innovative products, including imaging systems for diagnosis, therapy equipment for treatment, hearing instruments, and critical care and life support systems, as well as a wide array of information technology and data management solutions that optimize workflow and increase efficiency in hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices.

The company is known as the premiere health information application service provider processing more than 133 million transactions daily and managing more than 67 terabytes of data - twice the information volume of the Library of Congress.

Employing approximately 30.000 people worldwide, the company reported sales of 7.2 billion EUR, orders of 8.4 billion EUR and EBITA of 808 million EUR in fiscal 2001 (September 30). More information can be obtained by visiting us on the Web at

Siemens AG, headquartered in Munich, is a leading global electronics and engineering company. It employs some 450,000 in 193 countries, and reported worldwide sales of more than $74 billion in fiscal 2001 (10/1/00 - 9/30/01). The United States is Siemens' largest market, with nearly 80,000 employees and sales of $18.9 billion for fiscal 2001. For more information about Siemens in the U.S., visit

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