2013 ACC/AHA Guideline on the Assessment of Cardiovascular Risk: A Report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines


The following are 10 points to remember about this American College of Cardiology (ACC)/American Heart Association (AHA) Guideline on the Assessment of Cardiovascular Risk:

1. The 2013 ACC/AHA Expert Work Group endorsed the existing and widely employed paradigm of matching the intensity of preventive efforts with the individual’s absolute risk. The group also recognized that none of the risk assessment tools or novel risk markers examined or recommended has been formally evaluated in randomized controlled trials of screening strategies with clinical events as outcomes.

2. New Pooled Cohort Equations were established for estimating the 10-year risk of developing atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). Ten-year risk was defined as the risk of a first ASCVD event including nonfatal myocardial infarction or coronary heart disease death, or fatal or nonfatal stroke among people free from ASCVD at the beginning of the period. Equations were developed from sex- and race-specific proportional hazards models that included the covariates of age, treated or untreated systolic blood pressure level, total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels, current smoking status (Y/N), and history of diabetes (Y/N). Case example: a 55-year-old White man with total cholesterol 213 mg/dl, HDL-C 50 mg/dl, untreated systolic blood pressure 120 mm Hg, nonsmoker, and without diabetes has a 10-year risk of 5.3%, and women with similar data, a 2.1% risk.

3. Risk estimation is based on group averages that are then applied to individual patients in practice. The approach balances an understanding of an individual’s absolute risk for CVD and potential treatment benefits against the potential absolute risks for harm from therapy. Using this framework, treatment can be targeted to those most likely to benefit without undue risk for harm, in the context of a “risk discussion.”

4. A risk discussion could include the assessment of the patient’s risk for ASCVD, and potential benefits, negative aspects, risks, and patient preferences regarding initiation of relevant preventive therapies. Only a small fraction of trial participants have events, and only a fraction of these events are prevented by therapy. Using either approach, the clinician must apply the average results obtained from groups of patients to the individual patient in practice.

5. The race- and sex-specific Pooled Cohort Equations to predict 10-year risk for a first hard ASCVD event should be used in non-Hispanic African Americans and non-Hispanic Whites, 40-79 years of age. Use of the sex-specific Pooled Cohort Equations for non-Hispanic Whites may be considered when estimating risk in patients from populations other than African Americans and non-Hispanic Whites.

6. If, after quantitative risk assessment, a risk-based treatment decision is uncertain, assessment of one or more of the following—family history, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein, coronary artery calcium score, or ankle-brachial index—may be considered to inform treatment decision making.

7. The contribution to risk assessment for a first ASCVD event using apolipoprotein B, chronic kidney disease, albuminuria, and cardiorespiratory fitness is uncertain at present.

8. Carotid intima-media thickness is not recommended for routine measurement in clinical practice for risk assessment for a first ASCVD event.

9. It is reasonable to assess traditional ASCVD risk factors every 4-6 years in adults 20-79 years of age who are free from ASCVD, and to estimate 10-year ASCVD risk every 4-6 years in adults 40-79 years of age without ASCVD.

10. Assessing 30-year or lifetime ASCVD risk based on traditional risk factors may be considered in adults 20-59 years of age without ASCVD, and who are not at high short-term risk.

Clinical Topics: Diabetes and Cardiometabolic Disease, Dyslipidemia, Invasive Cardiovascular Angiography and Intervention, Prevention, Lipid Metabolism, Nonstatins, Smoking

Keywords: Myocardial Infarction, Stroke, Atherosclerosis, European Continental Ancestry Group, Risk Factors, Cholesterol, HDL, Obesity, Angioplasty, Balloon, Coronary, Diabetes Mellitus, Smoking

< Back to Listings