What to say and how to say it: effective communication for cardiovascular disease prevention

Curr Opin Cardiol. 2016 Sep;31(5):537-44. doi: 10.1097/HCO.0000000000000322.


Purpose of review: Current guidelines for cholesterol treatment emphasize the importance of engaging patients in a risk-benefit discussion prior to initiating statin therapy.

Recent findings: Although current risk prediction algorithms are well defined, there is less data on how to communicate with patients about cardiovascular disease risk, benefits of treatment, and possible adverse effects.

Summary: We propose a four-part model for effective shared decision-making: 1) Assessing patient priorities, perceived risk, and prior experience with cardiovascular risk reduction; 2) Arriving at a recommendation for therapy based on the patient's risk of disease, guideline recommendations, new clinical trial data, and patient preferences; 3) Communicating this recommendation along with risks, benefits, and alternatives to therapy following best practices for discussing numeric risk; and 4) Arriving at a shared decision with the patient with ongoing reassessment as risk factors and patient priorities change.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Clinical Decision-Making* / ethics
  • Communication*
  • Decision Making*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Patient Participation*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Uncertainty


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors