European journal of preventive cardiology

Calculated and perceived cardiovascular risk in asymptomatic subjects submitted to a routine medical evaluation: The perception gap.

PMID 25038080


Poor adherence to medical treatment represents a major health problem. A subject's misperception of his own cardiovascular risk has been indicated as a key driver for low compliance with preventive measures. This study analysed the relationship between objectively calculated short- and long-term cardiovascular risk and its subjective perception. Cross-sectional study in asymptomatic Brazilian subjects. Individuals (N = 6544, mean age 49.1 ± 7 years, 22.2% female) who underwent a routine mandatory health evaluation were studied. A questionnaire in which each individual rated his own cardiovascular risk as low, intermediate or high according to his own perception was used. The 10-year and lifetime cardiovascular risk were calculated respectively using the Framingham risk (FRS) and Lifetime risk (LRS) scores. Individuals were classified as hypo-perceivers (i.e. perceived risk lower than estimated risk), normo-perceivers (i.e. perceived risk coincident with estimated risk) and hyper-perceivers (i.e. perceived risk higher than estimated risk). Cardiovascular risk, using the FRS, was low in 77.9% (N = 5071), intermediate in 14.4% (N = 939) and high in 7.7% (N = 499) of subjects. Cardiovascular risk, using the LRS, was low in 7.6% (N = 492), intermediate in 43.1% (N = 2787) and high in 49.3% (N = 3184) of the study population. The prevalence of normo-perceivers was 57.6% using the FRS and only 20.6% using the LRS. Using the LRS, 72.3% of the intermediate and 91.2% of the high-risk subjects were hypo-perceivers. In a large sample of asymptomatic individuals, there was a gap between calculated and perceived cardiovascular risk. Using a long-term risk score, most of the intermediate- and high-risk subjects were hypo-perceivers.