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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Does present use of cardiovascular medication reflect elevated cardiovascular risk scores estimated ten years ago? A population based longitudinal observational study

Mette Brekke1* and Jørund Straand12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of General Practice/FamilyMedicine, Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo, PO Box 1130 Blindern, 0318 Oslo, Norway

2 Research Unit for General Practice, Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo, PO Box 1130 Blindern, 0318 Oslo, Norway

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:144  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-144

Published: 2 March 2011



It is desirable that those at highest risk of cardiovascular disease should have priority for preventive measures, eg. treatment with prescription drugs to modify their risk. We wanted to investigate to what extent present use of cardiovascular medication (CVM) correlates with cardiovascular risk estimated by three different risk scores (Framingham, SCORE and NORRISK) ten years ago.


Prospective logitudinal observational study of 20 252 participants in The Hordaland Health Study born 1950-57, not using CVM in 1997-99. Prescription data obtained from The Norwegian Prescription Database in 2008.


26% of men and 22% of women aged 51-58 years had started to use some CVM during the previous decade. As a group, persons using CVM scored significantly higher on the risk algorithms Framingham, SCORE and NORRISK compared to those not treated. 16-20% of men and 20-22% of women with risk scores below the high-risk thresholds for the three risk scores were treated with CVM, while 60-65% of men and 25-45% of women with scores above the high-risk thresholds received no treatment. Among women using CVM, only 2.2% (NORRISK), 4.4% (SCORE) and 14.5% (Framingham) had risk scores above the high-risk values. Low education, poor self-reported general health, muscular pains, mental distress (in females only) and a family history of premature cardiovascular disease correlated with use of CVM. Elevated blood pressure was the single factor most strongly predictive of CVM treatment.


Prescription of CVM to middle-aged individuals by large seems to occur independently of estimated total cardiovascular risk, and this applies especially to females.