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Cardiovascular Disease – Risk assessment

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Cardiovascular Disease – Risk assessment

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is an umbrella term given to the range of conditions caused through atheroma formation within the blood vessels. It includes coronary heart disease, renal disease, peripheral vascular disease, and stroke. It is also associated with diabetes and cognitive impairment. Although these diseases manifest themselves in very different ways they have the same set of risk factors: smoking, obesity, lipids, lack of exercise, poor diet and high blood pressure. A combination of risk factors puts people at higher risk of CVD than a single, isolated risk factor.

Reducing premature mortality from CVD is a Government priority, and through early identification of cardiovascular risk factors as part of a risk assessment, mortality and morbidity can be improved.1,2 The NHS Health checks for vascular risk assessment provide a structured approach to achieving this objective.3

This resource, consisting of five assessment questions at intermediate level, tests your understanding of risk assessment for CVD, and the tools available. Complete the resource, including reading the featured articles and undertaking some or all of the activities, to obtain a certificate for one hour of continuing professional development to include in your annual portfolio.

Aims and objectives

On completion of this module you should have an understanding of:

  • Who should be offered a CVD risk assessment
  • What should be included in an assessment
  • The different risk assessment tools available
  • Assessment tools for alcohol and exercise assessment
  • Explaining risk to patients


1. Living Well for Longer: a call to action to reduce premature mortality. Department of Health, 2013

2. Cardiovascular Disease Outcome Strategy: Improving Outcomes for people with or at risk of cardiovascular disease. Department of Health, 2012

3. NHS Health Check Programme, Best Practice Guidance, 2013 available from

Recommended reading

Joint British Societies 2 (JBS2) Guidelines. Heart 2005:91:v1-52

European Guidelines on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Clinical Practice. European Heart Journal 2012: 33, 1635-1701

UK National Screening Committee, Updated, The Handbook for Vascular Risk Assessment, Risk Reduction and Risk Management, 2012

Date of preparation:March 2014

Review date: March 2015