Every year in the UK, over 40,000 people under the age of 75 die from cardiovascular disease. There are many things people can do to avoid developing the disease, but it’s helpful for them to know if they are at high risk. QRISK®2 is a tool based on analysis patient data, that allows people (who do not have an existing diagnosis of coronary heart disease (CHD) or stroke) to work out the level of cardiovascular risk that they are facing.

Why was this work needed?

Cardiovascular disease can often be prevented if people at high risk of developing the disease can be identified early. Prevention can take the form of lifestyle changes, like losing weight or quitting smoking, or prescribing medication like statins. When deciding whether preventative measures are necessary, GPs and patients need a reliable way of assessing their cardiovascular risk.

What happened?

QRISK®2 is a risk assessment calculator. It uses a variety of information, like age, smoking status and existing medical conditions (excluding CHD and stroke), to calculate someone’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.  The calculator is updated annually to include any changes in trends (such as falling smoking rates) and improve the quality of the data and the reliability of the calculator.

People can use the tool themselves, but it is more often used as part of a conversation between a patient and their doctor.

What were the benefits?

This tool provides a reliable way for doctors and individuals to assess the risk of cardiovascular disease. This can be used to guide clinical decisions, like prescription of medication, and personal decisions, such as weight loss. People are more likely to adopt lifestyle changes or accept new drugs when the need for this new change is explained in the context of their own personal risk of a disease.

What type of data was involved?

QRISK®2 is based on the data from 1.28 million UK GP records. GP surgeries opt to participate. All participating practices can now also have their records linked to Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) records to increase accuracy, for example to include an admission to hospital that might not be recorded in the GP’s notes.

All the records were de-personalised before being used.

Who funded and collaborated on this work?

QRISK®2 was derived by QResearch which is a not-for-profit collaboration between the University of Nottingham and EMIS (a primary care IT supplier).

Where can I go for more information?

QRISK®2

Cardiovascular Risk Assessment