Studies, from the Netherlands and the United States, question the accuracy and value of the long-established Framingham Risk Score in predicting cardiovascular death and heart disease. The Framingham score allows doctors to assess risk on the basis of seven factors: age, gender, HDL (good) cholesterol, total blood cholesterol, smoking status, systolic blood pressure (the higher of the desired 120 over 80 reading), and whether blood pressure medication is being taken. The Framingham score did not accurately predict risk in a group of 1,653 people with no history of coronary heart disease, said a report. Yale University researchers measured the amount of potentially artery-blocking plaque seen on computerized tomography images. Because of their Framingham scores 21 percent of the people in the study were taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs but the scans showed that a quarter of those taking the medications had no detectable plaque as told by Dr. Kevin M. Johnson who is an assistant clinical professor of diagnostic radiology at Yale, and lead author of the report. The finding presents practicing physicians with a quandary, Johnson acknowledged, since it might mean exposing large numbers of healthy people to the X-rays needed to do CT artery scans. In second report Leiden University Medical Center researchers are concerned that a specific group those of 85 years and older are not covered by the Framingham guidelines. In predicting the 108 deaths that occurred among the 215 women and 87 men who were followed for five years, the Framingham Risk Score did no better than chance said Dr. Wouter de Ruijter, lead author of the report. The only accurate predictor of cardiovascular death in the Dutch study was the blood level of homocysteine. It is an amino acid which is related to formation of fatty deposits in the arteries, the study found.