But experts in the medical community have long debated whether the equations are based on outdated data and may be putting patients at risk.
Stanford professor and lead researcher Sanjay Basu is one such expert. According to his team's analysis, Basu noted one of the main data sets used for PCEs had information on people who would be 100-132 years old in 2018, so probably dead.
"A lot has changed in terms of diets, environments and medical treatment since the 1940s," Basu said in a university article. "So, relying on our grandparents' data to make our treatment choices is probably not the best idea."
» RELATED: Heart attack sufferers more likely to survive if doctor is away, study says
The data also didn’t have a sufficient sample of African-Americans, suggesting physicians may have been inaccurately assessing the group’s risks of heart attacks or strokes as too low.
Basu and his team believe the statistical methods, in addition to the data sets, also need to be upgraded to improve the accuracy of risk estimates.
The findings were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine on June 5.