Global risk scores use individual level information on non-modifiable risk factors (such as age, sex, ethnicity and family history) and modifiable risk factors (such as smoking status and blood pressure) to predict an individual's absolute risk of an adverse event over a specified period of time in the future. Cardiovascular risk scores have two major uses in practice. First, they can be used to dichotomise people into a group whose baseline risk, and therefore potential absolute benefit, is sufficiently high to justify the costs and risks associated with an intervention (whether treatment or prevention) and a group with a lower absolute risk to whom the intervention is usually denied. Second, they can be used to assess the effectiveness of an intervention (such as smoking cessation or antihypertensive treatment) at reducing an individual's risk of future adverse events. In this context, they can be helpful in informing patients, motivating them to change their lifestyle, and reinforcing the importance of continued compliance.