We have a tool for absolute risk assessment — now we need a robust implementation program
In March 2009, the National Vascular Disease Prevention Alliance (NVDPA), a consortium of Diabetes Australia, Kidney Health Australia, the National Heart Foundation of Australia, and the National Stroke Foundation, released evidence-based guidelines for assessing absolute cardiovascular risk.1 The guidelines are for use by health professionals who assess patients’ cardiovascular risk, primarily general practitioners. The risk charts that accompany the guidelines differ somewhat from the New Zealand risk charts,2 which are commonly used in Australia. Both the Australian and NZ charts are based on the Framingham Heart Study.3 The Australian cardiovascular risk charts are separated at the broader level into people with and without diabetes, rather than into men and women. In addition, systolic, but not diastolic, blood pressure is included because it is the stronger determinant of future events. The charts extend to upper cut-off points of 179 mmHg for systolic blood pressure and 7.5 mmol/L for total cholesterol level, respectively. The NVDPA guidelines also have an online risk calculator (http://www.cvdcheck.org.au). The new NVDPA guidelines and charts have the advantage of taking into account other drivers of practice in Australia, such as the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ Guidelines for preventive activities in general practice,4 and eligibility for Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme subsidies for statins.
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