The Veterans Affairs Cardiac Risk Score: Recalibrating the Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease Score for Applied Use

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Abstract

Background:

Accurately estimating cardiovascular risk is fundamental to good decision-making in cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention, but risk scores developed in one population often perform poorly in dissimilar populations. We sought to examine whether a large integrated health system can use their electronic health data to better predict individual patients’ risk of developing CVD.

Methods:

We created a cohort using all patients ages 45–80 who used Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) ambulatory care services in 2006 with no history of CVD, heart failure, or loop diuretics. Our outcome variable was new-onset CVD in 2007–2011. We then developed a series of recalibrated scores, including a fully refit “VA Risk Score—CVD (VARS-CVD).” We tested the different scores using standard measures of prediction quality.

Results:

For the 1,512,092 patients in the study, the Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease risk score had similar discrimination as the VARS-CVD (c-statistic of 0.66 in men and 0.73 in women), but the Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease model had poor calibration, predicting 63% more events than observed. Calibration was excellent in the fully recalibrated VARS-CVD tool, but simpler techniques tested proved less reliable.

Conclusions:

We found that local electronic health record data can be used to estimate CVD better than an established risk score based on research populations. Recalibration improved estimates dramatically, and the type of recalibration was important. Such tools can also easily be integrated into health system’s electronic health record and can be more readily updated.

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