BACKGROUND: An individual's perception of the risk of, and their susceptibility to, future cardiovascular events is crucial in engaging in effective secondary prevention. AIM: To investigate the perception of a cardiovascular event by examining the level of agreement between individuals with CHD views of their actual and perceived risk. METHODS: This study examined the individual's perception of the risk of a subsequent cardiac event among 220 patients hospitalised for a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) at a metropolitan, tertiary referral hospital in Sydney, Australia. Baseline clinical and demographic characteristics were collected, and actual risk (Personal Risk Score) calculated based on the presence or absence of nine cardiovascular risk factors: diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, cigarette smoking, previous history of CHD, family history of CHD, depression, overweight or obesity, and physical inactivity. Perception of risk was determined using an investigator-developed 4-item, 11-point Likert scale instrument (Perceived Heart Risk Questionnaire--PHRQ) which measured two dimensions of health threat: perceived seriousness, and perceived susceptibility. The correlation between the Personal Risk Score and the PHRQ was assessed using the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient. RESULTS: The calculated mean Personal Risk Score was 4.63±1.71 and the PHRQ was 25.5±7.04. The correlation between the Personal Risk Score (actual risk) and the PHRQ (perceived risk) was r=0.26 (p<0.01). CONCLUSIONS: The weak relationship between actual and perceived risk is of concern, particularly in a population at higher risk for future cardiovascular events. Implementing strategies to personalise risk should be explored to improve the accuracy of risk perception, and facilitate tailoring of behaviour change strategies.