Research Summary: A Comparative Assessment of Non-Laboratory-Based versus Commonly Used Laboratory-Based Cardiovascular Disease Risk Scores in the NHANES III Population



National and international primary CVD risk screening guidelines focus on using total CVD risk scores. Recently, we developed a non-laboratory-based CVD risk score (inputs: age, sex, smoking, diabetes, systolic blood pressure, treatment of hypertension, body-mass index), which can assess risk faster and at lower costs compared to laboratory-based scores (inputs include cholesterol values). We aimed to assess the exchangeability of the non-laboratory-based risk score to four commonly used laboratory-based scores (Framingham CVD [2008, 1991 versions], and Systematic COronary Risk Evaluation [SCORE] for low and high risk settings) in an external validation population.

Methods and Findings

Analyses were based on individual-level, score-specific rankings of risk for adults in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) aged 25–74 years, without history of CVD or cancer (n = 5,999). Risk characterization agreement was based on overlap in dichotomous risk characterization (thresholds of 10-year risk >10–20%) and Spearman rank correlation. Risk discrimination was assessed using receiver operator characteristic curve analysis (10-year CVD death outcome). Risk characterization agreement ranged from 91.9–95.7% and 94.2–95.1% with Spearman correlation ranges of 0.957–0.980 and 0.946–0.970 for men and women, respectively. In men, c-statistics for the non-laboratory-based, Framingham (2008, 1991), and SCORE (high, low) functions were 0.782, 0.776, 0.781, 0.785, and 0.785, with p-values for differences relative to the non-laboratory-based score of 0.44, 0.89, 0.68 and 0.65, respectively. In women, the corresponding c-statistics were 0.809, 0.834, 0.821, 0.792, and 0.792, with corresponding p-values of 0.04, 0.34, 0.11 and 0.09, respectively.


Every score discriminated risk of CVD death well, and there was high agreement in risk characterization between non-laboratory-based and laboratory-based risk scores, which suggests that the non-laboratory-based score can be a useful proxy for Framingham or SCORE functions in resource-limited settings. Future external validation studies can assess whether the sex-specific risk discrimination results hold in other populations.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 31-May-2011

Author(s): Pandya A., Weinstein M., Gaziano T.


Leave a Reply