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....

COVID-19 & cardiovascular disease

COVID-19 & cardiovascular disease

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

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

And the heartache lasts a lifetime. But you can help the Heart Foundation fund life-saving research to keep more families together....

Research Directory

Research Directory

Primary aldosteronism – a neglected cause of high blood pressure

Primary aldosteronism – a neglected cause of high blood pressure

Primary aldosteronism – a neglected cause of high blood pressure

Support for young adults: Online events

Support for young adults: Online events

Support for young adults: Online events

A series of virtual events for young adults on managing emotional wellbeing. ...

Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance

Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance

Alliance with chronic disease prevention stakeholders...

Philanthropic investments

Philanthropic investments

Philanthropic investments

Making philanthropic investments through the Heart Foundation can transform Australians’ health. ...

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Heart attack recovery – your first month

Explore the Heart Foundation’s guide on what to expect in the first month after your heart attack. ...

Register your cardiac service with the Heart Foundation

Register your cardiac service with the Heart Foundation

This cardiac services directory presents information on cardiac rehab programs offered across Australia....

COVID-19 & cardiovascular disease

COVID-19 & cardiovascular disease

COVID-19 & cardiovascular disease

Information and resources for health care professionals....

Apple & honey nut crumble oats

Apple & honey nut crumble oats

Apple & honey nut crumble oats

10 minutes
Serves Serves 2 (Makes 2 cups)

How to make healthier meals at home

How to make healthier meals at home

How to make healthier meals at home

Cooking at home is often healthier than eating out....

You’re probably not eating enough fish – here’s what you should do.

You’re probably not eating enough fish – here’s what you should do.

You’re probably not eating enough fish – here’s what you should do.

Fish and seafood is one of the most beneficial sources of omega 3. Incorporating more of it into your eating pattern can significantly lower your chances of heart disease and stroke. ...

Matilda signs up for Jump Rope just one month after open-heart surgery

Matilda signs up for Jump Rope just one month after open-heart surgery

Matilda signs up for Jump Rope just one month after open-heart surgery

Media Release - 26 June 2020...

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Heart Foundation recipes

Check out our recipe categories to find your next heart healthy meal....

Breakfast tacos

Breakfast tacos

Breakfast tacos

5 minutes
Serves 1

WEBINAR | Navigating the latest updates on CVD prevention

WEBINAR | Navigating the latest updates on CVD prevention

Remember a loved one with a tribute

Remember a loved one with a tribute

Remember a loved one with a tribute

Honour the life of a loved one with a donation to the Heart Foundation. Your donation offers hope for Australian hearts....

Tahini tofu dressing

Tahini tofu dressing

Tahini tofu dressing

Lipid management clinical information and resources

Lipid management clinical information and resources

Lipid management resources for health professionals...

What is a healthy body weight?

What is a healthy body weight?

What is a healthy body weight?

Find out what a healthy body weight is and the steps you can take to achieve it. ...

Loaded veggie shepherds pie

Loaded veggie shepherds pie

Loaded veggie shepherds pie

1 hour
Serves Serves 4 (as a main meal)

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) clinical resources

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Returning to work after a heart attack

Returning to work after a heart attack

Returning to work after a heart attack

Discover how to plan for your return to work....

For professionals: Heart failure tools and resources

For professionals: Heart failure tools and resources

Resources for healthcare professionals on the management of patients with heart failure ...

What is an arrhythmia?

What is an arrhythmia?

What is an arrhythmia?

Arrhythmia is a fault in the heart’s electrical system, which affects your heart’s pumping rhythm....

Our strategy

Our strategy

Our strategy

Connecting Hearts Strategy 2021-2023...

Supporting Young Hearts Podcast

Supporting Young Hearts Podcast

Supporting Young Hearts Podcast

Supporting Young Hearts is a six-episode series interviewing young people with lived experience of heart conditions and talking through advice for supporting emotional health and well-being....

WEBINAR | CVD & COVID-19

WEBINAR | CVD & COVID-19

WEBINAR | CVD & COVID-19

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

Heart Foundation Research Award Recipients

Heart Foundation Research Award Recipients

Explore our research award recipients and projects...