Ankur Pandya*

Ankur Pandya*

Associate Professor of Health Decision Science, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
*Harvard PhD Program in Health Policy Alumnus & Faculty Member

Dissertation Title:"Optimizing Cardiovascular Disease Screening and Projection Efforts in the United States"

The objective of this dissertation is to develop and evaluate quantitative models that have the potential to improve cardiovascular disease (CVD) screening and projection efforts in the U.S.

Paper 1 assesses the exchangeability of a non-laboratory-based CVD risk score (predictors do not include cholesterol) with more commonly-used laboratory-based scores, such as the Framingham risk equations. Under conventional thresholds for identifying high-risk individuals, 92-96% of adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) were equivalently characterized as high- or low-risk using either type of score. The 10-year CVD death results also suggest that simple CVD risk assessment could be a useful proxy for more expensive laboratory-based screening strategies in the U.S. or other resource-limited settings.

Paper 2 uses micro-simulation modeling techniques to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of primary cardiovascular disease (CVD) screening using staged laboratory-based and/or non-laboratory-based total CVD risk assessment. The results imply that efficient screening guidelines should include non-laboratory-based risk assessment, either as a single stage or as part of multistage screening approach. Compared to current CVD screening guidelines, fewer cholesterol tests would be administered and more adults would receive low-cost statins under cost-effective screening policies.

Paper 3 examines the trends of CVD risk factors, treatment, and total risk in the U.S. from 1973-2010, and offers projections of these variables for 2015-2030. Nine waves of cross-sectional NHANES data show that the divergent, observed trends in common CVD risk factors (such as smoking, BMI, total cholesterol, and blood pressure) are expected to continue in future years. Age-adjusted CVD risk has decreased over time (during the observed and projected periods), but total risk has increased when considering the impact of aging on CVD risk. Scenario analyses suggest that strategies targeting cholesterol and blood pressure treatment have the greatest potential to reduce future CVD burden in the U.S.




Graduation Year


Dissertation Committee Member