Frequently Asked Questions:
- Why are weight and physical activity not in the risk score? Well,
it is important to try not to be overweight, since increased weight is associated
with raised blood pressure, raised cholesterol and an increased risk of diabetes.
However since these factors are included in the risk score already, weight
(or body mass index) per se - does not contribute any extra information in
predicting the risk of cardiovascular death. Being physically active is good
for cardiovascular health, but we had no information on physical activity
in our database. Actually, it would be difficult to define a simple objective
criterion of what constitutes being physically active across a wide age range.
- Does history of myocardial infarction or stroke refer to the patient
themselves or their family history? We apologise if our use of the word
"history" in an earlier version of these web pages led to confusion. What
we meant was: has the patient themselves already had a myocardial infarction
(heart attack) or stroke. We have now rephrased the questions to make things
clearer. Family history (i.e. father or mother dying from cardiovascular disease)
does also increase one's own risk of cardiovascular death, but is much less
important than one already having had a heart attack or stroke oneself. However,
we have not included family history in the risk score because a) that information
was not in our database, and b) it would be quite complicated since the ages
and causes of death for both parents (if dead) would need to be taken into
- The calculation does not work - everytime the calculate button is clicked
the screen reverts to a blank entry form! The calculator needs a modern
web browser to work - you must have Internet Explorer version 4 or later or
Scripting or JScript) to be enabled on the browser. If you are still having
problems, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- How can I download the risk calculation program so that I don't need
to access the website each time? The calculator is available as a free
standing program for the PC. Click here to download
it. This is a self-expanding zip file, that automatically installs on your
- Why does this website risk score sometimes differ slightly from that
published in the BMJ article? In the BMJ article we presented a simplified
version in which you could obtain your risk score by adding up a few numbers.
On the website, the risk score program is more sophisticated and uses the
precise information on each risk factor (e.g. rather that an age interval
such as 60-64, we use a persons actual age such as 61). Thus, the website
risk score is to be preferred, being the more precise of the two.
- What changes were made to the calculator on 20th December 2004? On
this date, a small change was made to the criteria for defining individuals
as low, average, high or very high risk. Since the previous criteria were
based on the British sample of participants in the two Medical Research Council
Trials of Moderately Raised Blood Pressure, the typical blood pressures of
such people tended to be a bit higher than in the general population. In correcting
for this, the new minimum age- and sex-specific scores for average, high and
very high categories are all a bit lower than previously. Note the calculator
gives the same risk score and predicted 5-year risk of death from cardiovascular
disease as before.
Last updated 20 December 2004