A new test that can help predict a person's risk of heart disease more accurately has been developed by scientists.
An independent external validation of QRISK, a new score for predicting a heart disease risk has been found to be more accurate than the existing test.
Researchers from the University of Oxford have recommended its widespread use across the UK, in place of the more commonly used Framingham equation.
"We are delighted to receive another strong endorsement of the value of QRISK in assessing the risk of heart disease," said Professor Julia Hippisley-Cox of The University of Nottingham's Division of Primary Care.
"We believe this formula has the potential to save many thousands of lives, by helping clinicians to more accurately predict those at risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
"It will arm doctors with all the information they need to decide how best to target patients with preventative measures such as lifestyle advice and cholesterol-lowering treatments," she added.
During the study, the researchers tracked the progress of 1.07 million patients registered at 274 general practices in England and Wales for up to 12 years after first diagnosis of cardiovascular disease. All participants were aged between 35 and 74 at the start of the study.
Soon every patient's record will contain an automatically calculated heart risk score allowing GPs to identify and target those at greatest risk.
The new research has been published in the British Medical Journal.