Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 account.
  3. 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 Netscape version 2.x or later. It also requires JavaScript (also known as Scripting or JScript) to be enabled on the browser. If you are still having problems, please e-mail:

  4. 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 PC.
  5. 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.
  6. 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