I am
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk assessment and management

Absolute CVD risk assessment is an integrated approach that estimates the cumulative risk of multiple risk factors to predict a heart attack or stroke event in the next five years.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the single leading cause of death in Australia. It is largely preventable, with modifiable risk factors accounting for up to 90 per cent of the risk of myocardial infarction. Approximately 1.4 million Australians are at a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years, and over half have not had an event previously. 

Australian GPs play a vital role in driving the prevention of CVD by assessing and managing the CVD risk factors of their patients. The 2012 Absolute CVD Risk Guidelines provide Australian health care professionals with the latest evidence on the assessment and management of CVD risk.  

Absolute CVD risk assessment estimates the cumulative risk of multiple, and sometimes synergistic risk factors, to predict a heart attack or stroke event in the next 5 years. A ‘Heart Health Check’ is the patient-friendly term for comprehensive CVD risk assessment and ongoing management, and is now supported by Medicare.  

Modelling over the next five years has indicated that 76,500 cardiovascular disease related events – including heart attacks, strokes and deaths – could be prevented with the uptake of Heart Health Checks. 

What are the changes to Absolute CVD risk assessment and management in primary care? 

Patients at risk of CVD are now able to be reviewed annually to receive supporting referrals, lifestyle interventions and medications to prevent CVD. 

On 1 April 2019, two new interim items were introduced onto the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) to support the delivery of Heart Health Checks in primary care: Items 699 (for GPs) and 177 (for other medical practitioners working in general practice). These items support the ongoing assessment and management of absolute CVD risk in primary care for eligible patients 45 years and over (30 years and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients).  

The 20-minute Heart Health Checks allow GPs (with the support of practice nurses) to: 

  • Gather information about the risk factors for cardiovascular and chronic disease, such as: blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, smoking status and lifestyle factors 
  • Implement a formal, ongoing preventative management plan over subsequent visits or through referral pathways.  

Download absolute CVD risk assessment factsheet

Clinical approach to assessing and managing CVD risk

Modelling has shown that using an absolute or ‘global’ approach to assessing and managing CVD risk has the potential to prevent twice as many deaths from coronary heart disease when compared with treating individual risk factors, such as blood pressure or cholesterol.  

Absolute CVD risk assessment and management supports the targeted identification of high-risk groups, as these cohorts gain the most benefit from this treatment.  

The first Absolute CVD Risk Clinical Guidelines was launched in Australia in 2009. With targeted implementation activities, policy changes and the development of online tools, absolute CVD risk assessment has become the foundation of treatment decision making for primary prevention of CVD.  

Download clinical approach to absolute CVD risk assessment flowchart

Despite significant progress in this area over the last decade, research suggests that the uptake of absolute CVD risk assessment in Australian primary care is poor. For example, over 70 per cent of high-risk individuals aged 45 to 74 years are not receiving guideline-recommended blood pressure and lipid-lowering therapies.

Absolute CVD risk principles


1. Lancet, 2004, 364(9438):p. 937-52 2. NVDPA Absolute CVD risk guidelines 2012 3. BMJ 2006 Mar 18; 332(7542): 659-662 4. BMJ Open. 2014 May 15;4(5):eDD4812

Practice Incentives Program Quality Improvement (PIP QI) and Heart Health Checks 

From 1 August 2019, the new Practice Incentives Program Quality Improvement (PIP QI) includes a quality improvement measure on eligible patients for CVD risk assessment. The PIP QI is a payment to general practices that participate in quality improvement activities to improve patient outcomes and deliver best practice care.  

The PIP QI provides a maximum payment of $12,500 per quarter or $50,000 per annum. Implementing systematic absolute CVD risk assessments for eligible patients via Heart Health Checks helps your practice implement quality improvements and attract additional funding to support these important activities.  

Find out more about the Heart Health Checks.

Coronary artery calcium scoring

The National Heart Foundation of Australia has published a position statement on coronary artery calcium scoring for the primary prevention of CVD. This position statement provides practical advice for health professionals on the use of coronary artery calcium scoring to assist in defining risk, in conjunction with absolute CVD risk assessment.  

More information

You might also be interested in

For professionals: Heart Health Checks

For professionals: Heart Health Checks

Heart Health Checks have been supported by Medicare since April 2019....

Acute Coronary Syndromes tools from the guidelines

Acute Coronary Syndromes tools from the guidelines

Assessment protocols and algorithm for health care professionals...

WEBINAR | The future of CVD risk assessment

WEBINAR | The future of CVD risk assessment

WEBINAR | The future of CVD risk assessment

Should population-based CVD risk assessment models make way for individualised risk prediction techniques?...

Heart Health Network

Heart Health Network

Heart Health Network

Heart Health Network is the Heart Foundation’s newsletter for health professionals delivered to your inbox once a month....

For Professionals: COVID-19 & cardiovascular disease

For Professionals: COVID-19 & cardiovascular disease

For Professionals: COVID-19 & cardiovascular disease

Information and resources for health care professionals....

Acute coronary syndromes (ACS) clinical resources

Acute coronary syndromes (ACS) clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Absolute CVD risk calculator

Absolute CVD risk calculator

The Absolute CVD risk calculator estimates the likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years....

This Father’s Day share the ways you protect your heart

This Father’s Day share the ways you protect your heart

This Father’s Day share the ways you protect your heart

Have you thought about what you are getting for your children this Father’s Day?...

Acute Coronary Syndromes (ACS) clinical guidelines

Acute Coronary Syndromes (ACS) clinical guidelines

Guidelines for acute coronary syndromes for clinical care of patients presenting with suspected or confirmed ACS....

WEBINAR | CVD & COVID-19

WEBINAR | CVD & COVID-19

WEBINAR | CVD & COVID-19

Ask the experts: caring for people with CVD during COVID-19...

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

The fundraising race where you set the pace. Run, jog or walk MyMarathon at your own pace during October....

Tenecteplase versus alteplase for stroke thrombolysis evaluation trial

Tenecteplase versus alteplase for stroke thrombolysis evaluation trial

Professor Mark Parsons, Institution: University of Melbourne...

Research Directory

Research Directory

9 food and heart health myths, busted

9 food and heart health myths, busted

9 food and heart health myths, busted

Let’s dive into nine common food and health myths and the facts behind them....

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) clinical resources

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Order patient resources online

Order patient resources online

Search and order from our range of printed patient resources online. ...

Heart Week

Heart Week

Q&A with Dr Louise Segan

Q&A with Dr Louise Segan

Q&A with Dr Louise Segan

Optimal treatment of atrial fibrillation in people with cardiac dysfunction and scarring of the heart ...

Types of physical activity

Types of physical activity

Types of physical activity

Nine out of 10 Australians could reduce the risk of heart disease by walking as little as 15 minutes more each day....

How to volunteer with us

How to volunteer with us

How to volunteer with us

Join our volunteers and make a difference to the heart health of Australians....

Cardiac Rehabilitation Advocacy

Cardiac Rehabilitation Advocacy

Our programs and initiatives

Our programs and initiatives

Our programs and initiatives

The Heart Foundation delivers innovative, evidence-based programs and initiatives to support and prevent heart disease in Australia...

Peter is breathing easy again after heart valve surgery

Peter is breathing easy again after heart valve surgery

Peter is breathing easy again after heart valve surgery

Peter has lived with a rare heart condition since he was 14, but hadn’t given it too much thought until his 30s....

Is salt bad for your heart?

Is salt bad for your heart?

Is salt bad for your heart?

Most Australians are eating more than the recommended amounts and this can cause health problems....

Heart failure resources for patients

Heart failure resources for patients

Educate your patients on everything they need to know about heart failure and managing their condition ...

How we fought heart disease in 2020

How we fought heart disease in 2020

How we fought heart disease in 2020

Everything we do is possible thanks to the generosity of our supporters. ...

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Support us and help save Australian hearts

Join the fight against Australia’s biggest killer by supporting the Heart Foundation.  ...

Heart procedures and devices

Heart procedures and devices

Heart procedures and devices

If you have a heart condition, your doctor may recommend treatment or procedures...

Tahini tofu dressing

Tahini tofu dressing

Tahini tofu dressing

What is atrial fibrillation?

What is atrial fibrillation?

What is atrial fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation is a type of arrhythmia where your heart beats irregularly and fast....

Exercise boosts artery health in middle-aged and older men, not testosterone therapy

Exercise boosts artery health in middle-aged and older men, not testosterone therapy

Exercise boosts artery health in middle-aged and older men, not testosterone therapy

Media Release - 22 February 2021...

Nutrition Evidence Summaries and Reviews

Nutrition Evidence Summaries and Reviews

Nutrition Evidence Summaries and Reviews

Dinner recipes

Dinner recipes

Dinner recipes

Search our heart healthy dinner recipes for tonights main meal...

2020 Strategic Grant Recipients

2020 Strategic Grant Recipients

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Nutrition after a heart attack

Discover key information on heart-healthy eating and drinking....

How your heart works

How your heart works

How your heart works

Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood to all parts of your body. The blood gives your body the oxygen and nourishment it needs to work properly. ...

Hazelnut maple granola clusters

Hazelnut maple granola clusters

Hazelnut maple granola clusters

30 minutes
Serves Makes 635g. Serves 8 (80g serve – about ¾ cup)

What is coronary heart disease?

What is coronary heart disease?

What is coronary heart disease?

Coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease occurs when a coronary artery clogs and narrows because of a buildup of plaque....

Acute coronary syndromes (ACS) clinical resources

Acute coronary syndromes (ACS) clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...