Online risk assessment

The other day I received a newsletter from my health insurance company with a featured article about risk factors for heart disease. So I gave it a look, and as you might suspect it ran along pretty conventional lines: stop smoking, lower your cholesterol, etc. Then, in a sidebar about blood pressure, they listed a web site to access a “Risk Assessment Tool for Estimating 10-year Risk of Developing Hard CHD (Myocardial Infarction and Coronary Death).”

Now if you were going to create this web site, what address would you give it? Something like “riskassess.com”? Or “chdrisk.com”? You’d make the address short and catchy, right?

Here’s the web address they sent me to:
http://hin.nhlbi.nih.gov./atpiii/calculator.asp?usertype=prof

Keep in mind, this is in a print publication. I can’t just click on the link, or even copy and paste it – I have to type the whole thing out. Maybe they think I’ll get my heart rate up enough doing all that typing that it’ll get me started on an exercise program.

So I logged onto my Internet server and settled in behind the keyboard. I’m a good typist, but on my first try I missed one of the slashes – Doh! – so had to go back and correct. But then, after a second try, it turned out I’d also left out the dot after gov. Doh! Meanwhile I can feel my blood pressure climbing.

Finally – success! – the web site comes up, and in addition to my age, gender and smoking habits, they ask for my total cholesterol, my HDL cholesterol, and my systolic blood pressure. Doh! Right about then my blood pressure goes through the roof!

If I had just come home from getting the results of a complete physical I might know my cholesterol and BP readings. But come on, I don’t have that kind of information at my fingertips. Who do they think I am? The Surgeon General?

So if you DO happen to know your cholesterol and BP info, or if you happen to be the Surgeon General, please check that web site and let me know if the risk assessment is worth the trouble.

But I’ll tell you right now – if you’re not a good typist you might have to call 911 before you’re finished.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute