Four out of five widely used clinical calculators considerably overrate risk, including the most recent one unveiled in 2013 by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology, as per the findings.

Physicians commonly use standardized risk assessment systems, or algorithms, to decide whether someone needs care with daily aspirin and cholesterol-lowering drugs or just watchful waiting and follow-up exams.

These algorithms calculate heart attack probability using a combination of factors, such as gender, age, smoking history, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and diabetes among others.

"Our results reveal a lack of predictive accuracy in risk calculators and highlight an urgent need to re-examine and fine-tune our existing risk assessment techniques," said senior investigator Michael Blaha from Johns Hopkins University.

The study appeared in the Annals of Internal Medicine.


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