In this circumstance, routine heart checks which measure blood pressure, weight and cholesterol are more likely to do harm than good. It may be that as a result of future research, probably carried out in the laboratory rather than by epidemiologists, we may be in a position to identify high risk groups, for which there are safe and effective ways of reducing risk and preventing disease. In the meantime, activity should be restricted to advising only those individuals who seek help. It is reasonable to advise stopping smoking, particularly heavy cigarette smoking, and if there is a strong family history of coronary disease early in life, to measure cholesterol and other blood lipids. There is no place for mass screening for risk markers or population interventions to alter the eating habits of the nation (at least in terms of standard cholesterol lowering diets. But see our views, p. 8, about the real culprit editor).