A new score has been developed that could help GPs detect heart disease in younger people.
The lifetime score, developed by researchers from the University of Nottingham, takes into account factors including social deprivation and ethnicity.
Based on data from the electronic health records of over 2.5 million people, it is hoped that the new score will help doctors detect heart disease before it becomes a danger to the health of the patient.
The lifetime score will detect risks not picked up by the 10-year score, allowing doctors to identify people for possible intervention at a much younger age.
The score has been developed, validated and evaluated in a study published in the BMJ.
The model was developed using the Qresearch database by Julia Hippisley-Cox, professor of clinical epidemiology and general practice at Nottingham's School of Community Health, together with experts from Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry in London and the Avon Primary Care Research Collaborative in Bristol.
Professor Hippisley-Cox said: "This new score has the potential to identify younger people who have a high risk over the course of their lifetime, who are currently not picked up by the more conventional 10-year risk scores.
"By identifying people at a younger age, GPs will have more chance of intervening before heart disease sets in, to help reduce their lifetime risk through treatments and lifestyle advice."
The information could be updated to take account of improvements in data quality and refined over time to reflect trends in population characteristics, changes in clinical requirements and improved methods for communicating cardiovascular risk to patients.
"This is great news. I think guidelines have taken GPs discretion away in prescribing eg, statins. It does depend what GP practice you're in. If I can use my husband as an example. He is 46 yrs old, a non-smoker, BMI 25, chol 7.9, with terrible lipid profile ASSIGN score 13%. His father was a sudden cardiac death age 58 yrs. No history! So,we wait ... I hope new guidelines allow us to assess individual cardiac risk preventing cardiac events" - Heather Weir, Gourock