Most cardiovascular disease risk prediction equations in use today were derived from cohorts established last century and with participants at higher risk but less socioeconomically and ethnically diverse than patients they are now applied to. We recruited a nationally representative cohort in New Zealand to develop equations relevant to patients in contemporary primary care and compared the performance of these new equations to equations that are recommended in the USA.
The PREDICT study automatically recruits participants in routine primary care when general practitioners in New Zealand use PREDICT software to assess their patients’ risk profiles for cardiovascular disease, which are prospectively linked to national ICD-coded hospitalisation and mortality databases. The study population included male and female patients in primary care who had no prior cardiovascular disease, renal disease, or congestive heart failure. New equations predicting total cardiovascular disease risk were developed using Cox regression models, which included clinical predictors plus an area-based deprivation index and self-identified ethnicity. Calibration and discrimination performance of the equations were assessed and compared with 2013 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Pooled Cohort Equations (PCEs). The additional predictors included in new PREDICT equations were also appended to the PCEs to determine whether they were independent predictors in the equations from the USA.
Outcome events were derived for 401 752 people aged 30–74 years at the time of their first PREDICT risk assessment between Aug 27, 2002, and Oct 12, 2015, representing about 90% of the eligible population. The mean follow-up was 4·2 years, and a third of participants were followed for 5 years or more. 15 386 (4%) people had cardiovascular disease events (1507 [10%] were fatal, and 8549 [56%] met the PCEs definition of hard atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease) during 1 685 521 person-years follow-up. The median 5-year risk of total cardiovascular disease events predicted by the new equations was 2·3% in women and 3·2% in men. Multivariable adjusted risk increased by about 10% per quintile of socioeconomic deprivation. Māori, Pacific, and Indian patients were at 13–48% higher risk of cardiovascular disease than Europeans, and Chinese or other Asians were at 25–33% lower risk of cardiovascular disease than Europeans. The PCEs overestimated of hard atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease by about 40% in men and by 60% in women, and the additional predictors in the new equations were also independent predictors in the PCEs. The new equations were significantly better than PCEs on all performance metrics.
We constructed a large prospective cohort study representing typical patients in primary care in New Zealand who were recommended for cardiovascular disease risk assessment. Most patients are now at low risk of cardiovascular disease, which explains why the PCEs based mainly on old cohorts substantially overestimate risk. Although the PCEs and many other equations will need to be recalibrated to mitigate overtreatment of the healthy majority, they also need new predictors that include measures of socioeconomic deprivation and multiple ethnicities to identify vulnerable high-risk subpopulations that might otherwise be undertreated.
Health Research Council of New Zealand, Heart Foundation of New Zealand, and Healthier Lives National Science Challenge.