Great patient decision aid for primary prevention of CVD

Goodfellow Gems Logo

Goodfellow Gems

Great patient decision aid for primary prevention of CVD

The online CVD calculator tool,created by University of British Columbia’s Professor James McCormack and Dr Pascal Pfiffner, helps estimate a patient’s 10 year risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) as smiley/sad face icons, and enables the clinician to show the patient estimates of the benefits and harms for single interventions (e.g. activity, statins, blood pressure medications). The tool informs and helps patients decide as it is a decision only they can make.

The tool graphically shows that most people do not benefit from taking medication for primary prevention. Anecdotally, patients seem less keen on taking medication once informed. There are some caveats, eg, cannot use for over 80 year olds. 

It is best used for demonstrating the impact that statins, blood pressure lowering, diet, aspirin and exercise have on CVD risk. It is not useful when discussing taking insulin, as there is an absence of evidence for insulin and CVD.  


  1. The Absolute CVD Risk/Benefit Calculator (2015)

    Gems are chosen by the Goodfellow director Dr. Bruce Arroll to be either practice changing or practice maintaining. The information is educational and not clinical advice.

    This Gem is supported by:
    As published in NZ Doctor 26/10/2016