A risk factor is a demographic characteristic associated with an increased risk of ischaemic
heart disease when other variables have been controlled. The presence of a risk factor in
an individual increases his or her relative risk of a coronary event (angina, infarction or
death). The absolute risk of a coronary event depends on the individual’s total number
of risk factors and theirseverity (total risk). Important coronary risk factors are shown in
Risk assessment charts have been developed to estimate a patient’s cardiac risk over a
number of years using easily identified risk factors. There are charts for different populations.
The charts can be used to predict cardiovascular events or mortality (as in the NHF chart in
Fig 1.1 on p. 4) or cardiac risk (systematic coronary risk evaluation system or SCORE charts).
These charts can be very helpful in deciding when intervention to reduce risk is warranted; for
example, when anti-hypertensive treatment should be commenced for a patient with mild blood
Risk factor reduction involves assessing the presence, severity and importance of risk factors