January 22, 2019

View as List 8 Useful Online Risk Calculators

  • 8 Useful Online Risk Calculators

    When it comes to your risk of major health problems, ignorance isn't bliss. Knowing that you're at elevated risk of, say, a heart attack or a major bone fracture might inspire you to make preventive lifestyle changes. It can also help you and your doctor to make decisions about tests and treatments, such as whether you should take drugs to lower cholesterol. Here are eight risk calculators to check out. Their results aren't definitive; each is based on previous studies, some more recent than others, and all with their own limitations. So think of them as a starting point for a productive conversation with your health care provider.

  • 1

    Heart Attack/Stroke

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    The tool: ASCVD Risk Estimator   

    How it works: This tool computes your 10-year and lifetime risk of a heart attack or stroke. You input your gender, age, cholesterol level, blood pressure, race, and whether you smoke, have diabetes, or are being treated for hypertension. If your 10-year risk is 7.5 percent or higher, new guidelines published along with the calculator recommend that you take a cholesterol-lowering statin drug—a recommendation that’s proven controversial. If you fall into that group, we recommend instead talking with your doctor about the relative benefits and risks of statins.   

  • 2

    Breast Cancer

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    The tool: Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool   

    How it works: The tool calculates a healthy woman’s 5-year and lifetime risk of developing invasive breast cancer, compared with that of the average woman of the same age and race. It also tells you your risk of not getting breast cancer over the next five years. You enter your age, race, and whether you’ve had children (and at what age) and answer questions about your personal and family medical history. If the tool deems you at high risk, ask your doctor whether you should undergo additional screening tests     

  • 3

    Colon cancer

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    The tool: Colorectal Cancer Risk Assessment Tool   

    How it works: This tool calculates your 5-year, 10-year, and lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer. Note that it's designed for use only by people age 50 and older. It asks about your height, weight, and lifestyle habits, such as how many servings of leafy vegetables you eat per week. You also answer questions about your use of aspirin and other medications. Discuss your risk scores with your doctor, especially if they’re higher than the averages for your age and gender, which the tool also provides.    

  • 4

    Bone fractures

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    The tool: WHO Fracture Risk Assessment Tool (FRAX)  

    How it works: This tool computes your chance of a major bone fracture (hip, spine, forearm, or shoulder) over the next 10 years. You enter your age, gender, weight, height, bone density score, lifestyle habits, and family history of fractures. If you're 50 or older and have low bone mass (a T-score between -1.0 and -2.5) and your chance of hip fracture is 3 percent or greater—or if you're any age and your 10-year risk of a major fracture is 20 percent or higher—ask your doctor about the pros and cons of treatment with a bone-building drug.   

  • 5

    Skin cancer

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    The tool: Melanoma Risk Assessment Tool  

    How it works: This tool assesses your 5-year risk of developing invasive melanoma, a life-threatening skin cancer. You enter information about your gender, race, complexion, moles, where you live, and whether you burn or tan when exposed to the sun. If your results indicate that you're at high risk, consider getting regular skin exams by your primary care provider or a dermatologist, and do your own skin checks regularly as well. And use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 (30 if you’re very sun-sensitive) to help screen out harmful ultraviolet rays.      

  • 6


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    The tool: Stroke Risk Scorecard    

    How it works: This tool assesses your likelihood of having a stroke. You download a chart, then check the boxes alongside any risk factors that apply to you, such as high blood pressure or a family history of stroke, and tally up your score. If you fall into a high-risk group, the National Stroke Association, which created the tool, recommends talking with your doctor about preventive measures. We think it's a good idea to talk with your doctor if you're in a medium-risk group as well, particularly about lifestyle changes that can lower your risk.    

  • 7

    Surgical risk

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    The tool: Surgical Risk Calculator   

    How it works: This tool calculates the chance that you’ll experience a complication (such as pneumonia or infection) or die from a surgical procedure. It also estimates how much time you might spend in the hospital (higher-risk patients may require longer postsurgical stays). You enter the name of the procedure or five-digit CPT code used for billing (your surgeon’s office should be able to provide it), followed by your age, gender, height, weight, and any medical conditions. If the results indicate that you're at increased risk of a complication, discuss it with your surgeon.    

  • 8


    overweight woman exercising

    The tool: Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test   

    How it works: This tool assesses your lifetime risk of developing type 2 diabetes. You input your age, gender, race, height, and weight, and answer a series of questions about your medical history and diet and exercise habits. The tool gives you a score of 0 (lowest risk) to 10 (highest risk), along with an explanation of which risk factors, such as family history or high body mass index, contributed to your score. You can use the information as a jumping-off point for a discussion with your doctor about whether to be tested for diabetes