NCBI Bookshelf. A service of the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health.

Cover of Systematic Review of Cardiovascular Disease Risk Assessment Tools

Systematic Review of Cardiovascular Disease Risk Assessment Tools

Evidence Syntheses/Technology Assessments, No. 85

Investigators: , MD, MSPH, , PhD, MPH, , BA, , MS, , BE, , MLIS, MPH, , MLIS, , MPH, , MD, and , MD.

Vanderbilt Evidence-based Practice Center
Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); .
Report No.: 11-05155-EF-1

Structured Abstract


To summarize the current state of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk modeling literature with a focus on the U.S. patient population, and to describe evidence on which models best predict cardiovascular risk among patients with diabetes.

Data Sources:

We searched MEDLINE for articles published January 1, 1999, to February 24, 2009, and reviewed all reference lists of included articles.

Review Methods:

We included studies of asymptomatic adults in any geographic setting with any study design in which a CVD clinical risk prediction model was developed or validated. We excluded studies that 1) were not in English; 2) were without information pertinent to the key questions; 3) had fewer than 200 participants at enrollment; 4) were not original studies; and 5) lacked internal or external validation data. We captured study information such as cohort characteristics, risk model characteristics, model performance statistics, and quality review elements. We collected information about the study populations for stratification of results by variables, including sex and geographic area. We also searched online for available tools and documented their location and the model on which they purported to be based. We used the online tools to calculate risk for five test cases to identify variation in estimated risk.


Of the 3,499 articles initially identified, 84 met inclusion criteria, providing data on 102 risk models. The majority of models (87 out of 102) were not externally validated. The most commonly externally validated risk models were the 1991 Framingham (FRS) model for CVD (26 evaluations), the 1998 FRS model for total coronary heart disease (CHD) (24 evaluations), the FRS Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP-III) model for hard CHD (16 evaluations), the Prospective Cardiovascular Münster (PROCAM) model for hard CHD (11 evaluations), and the Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation (SCORE) model for CVD mortality (11 evaluations).


The FRS models performed well in U.S. populations, but there were absolute risk prediction problems when they were applied to populations substantially different from the source cohort. Sometimes this was due to particularly low or high baseline risk in the destination cohort, and at other times to systematic differences in risk attributable to specific factors. The 2001 ATP-III version demonstrated better risk prediction than older FRS models because it focuses on hard CHD outcomes, excludes patients with diabetes, and includes newer FRS data. Diabetes-specific process measurement variables are significantly related to cardiovascular outcome risk among patients with diabetes, and risk models that incorporate these factors outperform general risk prediction models when applied to these patients. Models excluding patients with diabetes outperformed general risk prediction models that included these patients in their development when applied to non-diabetic cohorts. Unfortunately, external validation of diabetes-specific risk models is lacking, particularly among U.S. cohorts.


Prepared for: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services1, Contract No. HHSA-290-2007-10065-1. Prepared by: Vanderbilt Evidence-based Practice Center, Institute for Medicine and Public Health, Vanderbilt University Medical Center2.

Suggested citation:

Matheny M, McPheeters ML, Glasser A, Mercaldo N, Weaver RB, Jerome RN, Walden R, McKoy JN, Pritchett J, Tsai C. Systematic Review of Cardiovascular Disease Risk Assessment Tools. Evidence Synthesis No. 85. AHRQ Publication No. 11-05155-EF-1. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; May 2011.

This report is based on research conducted by the Vanderbilt Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) under contract to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Rockville, MD (Contract No. HHSA-290-2007-10065-1). The findings and conclusions in this document are those of the authors, who are responsible for its content, and do not necessarily represent the views of AHRQ. No statement in this report should be construed as an official position of AHRQ or of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The information in this report is intended to help clinicians, employers, policymakers, and others make informed decisions about the provision of health care services. This report is intended as a reference and not as a substitute for clinical judgment.

This report may be used, in whole or in part, as the basis for the development of clinical practice guidelines and other quality enhancement tools, or as a basis for reimbursement and coverage policies. AHRQ or U.S. Department of Health and Human Services endorsement of such derivative products may not be stated or implied.

None of the investigators has any affiliation or financial involvement that conflicts with the material presented in this report.


540 Gaither Road, Rockville, MD 20850, www​


2525 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203

Bookshelf ID: NBK56166PMID: 21796824


Related information

Similar articles in PubMed

See reviews...See all...

Recent Activity

Your browsing activity is empty.

Activity recording is turned off.

Turn recording back on

See more...