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Researchers Create Risk Model for Chagas Disease Deaths

High score indicates 84 percent risk of death within 10 years

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Investigators have developed and tested a simple model to predict the risk of death from Chagas heart disease, which currently affects more than one million Latin Americans, according to a report in the Aug. 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Anis Rassi, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., from Anis Rassi Hospital in Goiania, Brazil, and colleagues retrospectively analyzed 424 patients in a Brazilian cohort to develop a scoring system based on potential risk factors for death from Chagas disease, caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. The model was tested in a second group of 153 patients.

During a mean follow-up of 7.9 years where 130 patients died, the investigators identified six prognostic factors and weighted each according to their regression coefficients. A value of 5 points was assigned for New York Heart Association class III or IV, 5 points for evidence of cardiomegaly, 3 points for left ventricular systolic dysfunction, 3 points for non-sustained ventricular tachycardia, 2 points for low QRS voltage and 2 points for being male.

A score of 12 or higher indicated the highest risk of death -- an 84 percent likelihood within 10 years. "At least one million of [currently infected individuals] will die unless scientific and political breakthroughs lead to new strategies and tools for diagnosis, treatment and increased access to medical care," states the author of an accompanying editorial.

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