Background: Many guidelines exist for screening and risk assessment for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease in apparently healthy persons.
Purpose: To systematically review current primary prevention guidelines on adult cardiovascular risk assessment and highlight the similarities and differences to aid clinician decision making.
Data Sources: Publications in MEDLINE and CINAHL between 3 May 2009 and 30 June 2016 were identified. On 30 June 2016, the Guidelines International Network International Guideline Library, National Guideline Clearinghouse, National Library for Health Guidelines Finder, Canadian Medical Association Clinical Practice Guidelines Infobase, and Web sites of organizations responsible for guideline development were searched.
Study Selection: 2 reviewers screened titles and abstracts to identify guidelines from Western countries containing recommendations for cardiovascular risk assessment for healthy adults.
Data Extraction: 2 reviewers independently assessed rigor of guideline development using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation II instrument, and 1 extracted the recommendations.
Data Synthesis: Of the 21 guidelines, 17 showed considerable rigor of development. These recommendations address assessment of total cardiovascular risk (5 guidelines), dysglycemia (7 guidelines), dyslipidemia (2 guidelines), and hypertension (3 guidelines). All but 1 recommendation advocates for screening, and most include prediction models integrating several relatively simple risk factors for either deciding on further screening or guiding subsequent management. No consensus on the strategy for screening, recommended target population, screening tests, or treatment thresholds exists.
Limitation: Only guidelines developed by Western national or international medical organizations were included.
Conclusion: Considerable discrepancies in cardiovascular screening guidelines still exist, with no consensus on optimum screening strategies or treatment threshold.
Primary Funding Source: Barts Charity.