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Il Progetto Cuore
Epidemiologia e prevenzione delle malattie cerebro e cardiovascolari



risk assessment

Calculating the individual risk score

The individual risk score is a simple tool for assessing the probability of developing a first major cardiovascular event (myocardial infarction or stroke) over the following 10 years, when the values of eight risk factors are known: gender, age, diabetes, smoking habit, systolic blood pressure, serum cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and the prescription of anti-hypertensive medications.

The risk assessment provided by the risk score is more accurate than that resulting from cardiovascular risk chart. Actually, the individual risk score:

  • takes into account two more risk factors, HDL-cholesterol and anti-hypertensive therapy, which is additional to blood pressure, since the blood pressure value registered is the result of treatment. Anti-hypertensive therapy is also an indicator of longstanding hypertension.
  • risk charts are based on global absolute risk classes calculated for categories of risk factors and take into account ranges of values of total serum cholesterol and blood pressure. The individual risk score, instead, uses continuous values of total serum cholesterol, serum HDL cholesterol, age and blood pressure and provide a more precise estimation of cardiovascular risk
  • the individual risk score can be applied to persons ages 35-69 years (the chart covers the age range 49-69 instead).

Therefore, the risk value may be slightly different depending on which tool is used.


The individual risk score:

  • is not a 'do-it-yourself' tool
  • is valid if the risk factors are measured by standardized methods
  • can be applied to men and women ages 35-69 years who have no history of previous coronary or cerebrovascular events
  • cannot be applied to pregnant women
  • is not applicable in the case of extreme risk factors: systolic arterial pressure greater than 200 mmHg or lower than 90 mmHg, total serum cholesterol value greater than 320 mg/dl or lower than 130 mg/dl, HDL cholesterol greater then 100 mg/dl or lower than 20 mg/dl.

In order to assess cardiovascular risk, glycemia and cholesterol values deriving from clinical tests are usable only if no more than three months have passed since last measurements.


It is highly recommended to assess cardiovascular risk with the individual risk score at least:

  • every six months in people at high cardiovascular risk (probability of experiencing a first cardiovascular event equal to or higher than 20%)
  • every year in people at cardiovascular risk who need to adopt an healthy lifestyle (probability of experiencing a first cardiovascular event equal to or higher than 3% and lower than 20%)
  • every five years in people at low cardiovascular risk (probability of experiencing a first cardiovascular event lower than 3%).

To ensure the test is used correctly, answer the following questions taking care to record individual values as indicated:



Important notice:


Risk assessment gives no indication to treatment.
It is recommended to consult a physician for advice or therapy.



Last update Monday 17 Dicember 2018