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Minerva Medica 2010 February;101(1):59-62

language: English

The concept of risk in medicine: historical and epistemological reflections

Conti A. A. 1,3, Conti A. 3,4, Gensini G. F. 1,3

1 Dipartimento di Area Critica Medico Chirurgica, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Firenze, Italia;
2 Fondazione Don Carlo Gnocchi, IRCCS Firenze, Firenze, Italia;
3 Centro Italiano per la Medicina Basata sulle Prove, Firenze, Italia;
4 Dipartimento di Fisiopatologia Clinica,Università degli Studi di Firenze, Firenze, Italia


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The concept of risk in medicine varies according to different health settings and different times. At present, risk is considered, in the cardiovascular area, the probability of developing a clinical event through time computed on the basis of the quantification of the presence and of the interaction of different diseases and/or risk factors. The definition of risk factors in the biomedical field is here documented through time to show how recent clinical-epidemiological elements have been achieved. In the twentieth century many epistemological and methodological objectives have been attained with regard to the theoretical idea of risk and to the practical tools useful to modify it, and the example of the management of diabetes is furnished as documentation of this progress. Nonetheless, correct risk evaluation continues to remain a formidable challenge in the health scenario.

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a.conti@dac.unifi.it