This paper reports on a head-to-head study of howRU and EQ-5D on patients with cardiovascular disease. howRU is a short generic measure of health-related quality of life comprising 39 words, designed for routine use, which we compare with EQ-5D (230 words). Patients attending a clinic completed both instruments. Completed data were available for 116 patients, 51% female, mean age 56 and SD 20. howRU is shorter, has better readability statistics, a higher completion rate, a wider range of states used and a smaller ceiling effect than EQ-5D. The correlations of howRU with EQ-5D are similar to those of EQ-5D with other validated instruments.