How to Use the CHADS-VASc Scoring Criteria to Determine Your Risk of Stroke
The most common way to determine your risk of stroke is to use an assessment calculator called the CHADS-VASc scoring criteria. Each letter stands for a complication that puts you at an increased risk for having a stroke. This tool is widely accepted and used by the medical community to assess the risk. According to the Heart Rhythm Society (an international organization that promotes education related to arrhythmias for both patients and professionals), a score of “0” is associated with a low risk of stroke (possibly requiring aspirin), a score of “1” relates to an intermediate risk (requiring at least aspirin) and any score higher than 1 is considered a high risk requiring some type of therapy.
In the chart to the right, there is a description (in the middle column) of each letter in the CHADS-VASc calculator. For example, C stands for Congestive Heart Failure, H stands for Hypertension, and so on through the letters. If you are comfortable with determining whether or not you have the conditions listed in middle column, this is a simple tool to determine your risk. If you are not comfortable or do not know enough about your health history, you can ask your doctor to help you use the CHADS-VASc scoring system to determine your risk. In either case, the score determines the treatment you need which ultimately should be discussed with your doctor.
To begin, ask yourself – “Do I have congestive heart failure?” If you are certain based on a diagnosis from your doctor that you do, give yourself 1 point. If you know you do not have congestive heart failure, then move on to the next condition. The next question is “do you suffer from hypertension?” If yes, 1 point is given, if not move on to the next condition. You will continue through the exercise and tally your score at the end adding up the points for any condition you check off. You will notice some categories are worth 2 points. For example, if you have had a prior stroke, you would give yourself 2 points. The same is true if you are over 75. Once you determine your score, share the results with your doctor and he or she can work with you to formulate a therapy plan.
Description of Risk Factor -# of points assigned
Congestive Heart Failure = 1 point
Hypertension = 1 point
Age - Older than 75? = 2 points
Diabetes Mellitus = 1 point
Stroke, TIA, or thromboembolism = 2 points
Vascular Disease, previous MI, peripheral artery disease or aortic plaque = 1 point
Age 65-74 = 1 point
Gender is female = 1 point
TOTAL SCORE _______