Cardiovascular risk factors: when should we treat?

Andrew M Tonkin, Stephen S Lim and Henrik Schirmer
Med J Aust 2003; 178 (3): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2003.tb05092.x
Published online: 3 February 2003

We need to derive absolute cardiovascular risk functions based on contemporary Australian data

The accurate estimation of risk for future disease events is critical to the determination of the benefit–risk ratio and the most cost-effective use of preventive therapies (Box 1). This is particularly relevant for cardiovascular diseases (CVD), which are the leading cause of deaths in Australia (40% of total deaths), and in 1993–1994 accounted for the largest proportion (12%, or $3.9 billion) of total annual recurrent health expenditure.3 (This proportion is now almost certainly greater.) Expenditure on cardiovascular drugs under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme totals $1.2 billion annually, $629 million of this on lipid-lowering drugs, especially statins.4 Accurate assessment of the likelihood of future events would optimise resource allocation by targeting patients at higher risk.5

  • 1 Health, Medical and Scientific Affairs, National Heart Foundation of Australia, West Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.


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