Absolute CVD risk - a practical update

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The increasing burden of morbidity and mortality associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD)  along with increased healthcare expenditure continues to drive a renewed focus on CVD risk reduction. Modifiable CVD risk factors account for 90% of the risk of myocardial infarction, indicating that CVD is largely preventable.

Identified barriers to the uptake of risk assessment in primary care have included lack of time, restrictions to prescribing under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule, irrelevance to patients and outdated guidance and evidence on the absolute risk approach.

Over the last decade, major changes to national policy have helped to break down these barriers offering a refreshed focus on absolute CVD risk assessments. 

The main focus of the webinar discussion was:

  • What the new MBS item on absolute CVD risk (Heart Health Checks) means for primary prevention of CVD and how this can be rolled out in practice
  • The practical implementation of absolute CVD risk assessment in primary care, including key enablers and barriers
  • The role of patient engagement in communicating CVD risk and how this can translate into effective behaviour change 
  • What is still outstanding in this space with respect to national guidance and the evidence base

Meet the panel:

Prof Nigel Stocks (Facilitator
Professor Stocks is Head of the Discipline of General Practice at the University of Adelaide.  He is a general practitioner (FRACGP) and public health physician (FAFPHM).  He is an experienced primary health care researcher who has conducted both qualitative and quantitative studies. His main interests are in cardiovascular health (including CVD risk), infectious disease, prevention and quality of life, with an emphasis on clinical and health services research. He is Chair of the RACGP National Awards Committee and member of their Research Foundation, as well as Chair of the National Prescribing Service, Data Governance Committee.

Prof Mark Nelson
Mark Nelson is Professor and Chair, Discipline of General Practice, School of Medicine and Senior Member Menzies Institute for Medical Research, where he is also medical director of the Blood Pressure Clinic, both at the University of Tasmania.  He is also an Adjunct Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University. His research interests focus on large-scale clinical trials in primary care, and he is a principal investigator on the ASPREE and STAREE trials. He also works in clinical general practice in Hobart.



Dr Carissa Bonner
Dr Carissa Bonner is a behavioural scientist who investigates how to improve medical decision making and communication in primary care. Her area of expertise is the development and evaluation of communication interventions used in clinical practice around the world, with a strong focus on CVD prevention. Dr Bonner also led The Healthy Heart Study for 7 years. She directs the Experimental Research stream of the Sydney Heath Literacy Lab, working with the translational ASK-GP Centre of Research Excellence and the Wiser Healthcare Research Translation Group.  


Prof Kim Greaves
Kim has a 20-year track record in clinical cardiovascular disease research and, more recently, in population health research, focusing on cardiovascular disease prevention in primary care. He has attracted over $3.5 million in research funding and published more than 60 papers. Kim moved from the UK five years ago to become Director of Cardiac Research and Consultant Cardiologist at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital & Allied Health Precinct, the largest health hub in Australia. Kim is also undertaking a Masters in Applied Epidemiology at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University.


As a guide, you can download the information slides from the Webinar here.


Interested in more?

The Heart Foundation also held a webcast which offered health professionals the opportunity to learn more about the psychological and emotional challenges of recovering from a heart event and depression screening.