Dundee University researchers have devised a new method of estimating the risk of heart disease which includes social deprivation and family history.
The new risk assessment includes factors such as ethnic background
The risks are higher for people living in deprived areas or those who come from ethnic minorities.
Those factors are currently not taken into account when assessing which patients are most at risk from heart disease or strokes.
The new method is being assessed for use in Scotland and possibly elsewhere.
Doctors use a "risk score" to decide which patients to prioritize for preventive treatment.
The score is currently based on levels of smoking, blood pressure and fats (cholesterol and HDL cholesterol) in the blood, along with the patient's age and sex.
The Dundee researchers, working with the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (Sign), have produced a new risk score, known as Assign, which includes added information on social deprivation and family history to provide a more complete picture of the risk.
Their research has been published in the journal Heart.
The team, from the university's Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit of The Institute of Cardiovascular Research, tracked the health of more than 13,000 men and women aged 30-74 in Scotland over 10-20 years to the end of 2005.
This information was used to develop the Assign score.
Project leader Prof Hugh Tunstall-Pedoe said: "Existing scores, such as that from Framingham in the USA use levels of smoking, blood pressure and fats in the blood along with patient's age and sex to estimate risk.
"However, we know that socially deprived people and people from ethnic minorities such as British Asians are at increased risk, not explained by these factors.
"A year ago we showed that for this reason the Framingham score was unfair to those people in the population at greatest risk of heart disease."
The work, which was funded by the Scottish Executive and the British Heart Foundation, was carried out in relation to the development of forthcoming revised guidelines on heart disease by Sign.
Dr John Rouse from Dundee University's College of Life Sciences has been named as one of Europe's best scientists and is only one of five in the UK to receive the accolade this year.
He was chosen by the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) as an EMBO Young Investigator - one of only 21 of the best young biomedical and life scientists in Europe to receive the award.
The focus of Dr Rouse's research is to understand how cells recognise and repair DNA damage to prevent mutations and diseases such as cancer.