Background: A downwards secular trend in the incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in England was identified through previous work and the literature. Risk prediction models for primary prevention of CVD do not model this secular trend, this could result in over prediction of risk for individuals in the present day. We evaluate the effects of modelling this secular trend, and also assess whether it is driven by an increase in statin use during follow up.
Methods: We derived a cohort of patients (1998 – 2015) eligible for cardiovascular risk prediction from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink with linked hospitalisation and mortality records (N = 3,855,660). Patients were split into development and validation cohort based on their cohort entry date (before/after 2010). The calibration of a CVD risk prediction model developed in the development cohort was tested in the validation cohort. The calibration was also assessed after modelling the secular trend. Finally, the presence of the secular trend was evaluated under a marginal structural model framework, where the effect of statin treatment during follow up is adjusted for.
Results: Substantial over prediction of risks in the validation cohort was found when not modelling the secular trend. This miscalibration could be minimised if one was to explicitly model the secular trend. The reduction in risk in the validation cohort when introducing the secular trend was 35.68% and 33.24% in the female and male cohorts respectively. Under the marginal structural model framework, the reductions were 33.31% and 32.67% respectively, indicating increasing statin use during follow up is not the only the cause of the secular trend.
Conclusions: Inclusion of the secular trend into the model substantially changed the CVD risk predictions. Models that are being used in clinical practice in the UK do not model secular trend and may thus overestimate the risks, possibly leading to patients being treated unnecessarily. Wider discussion around the modelling of secular trends in a risk prediction framework is needed.