Background Patients with left-sided breast cancer have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) after radiotherapy (RT). While the awareness of cardiac toxicity has increased enormously over the last decade, the role of individual baseline cardiac risks has not yet been systematically investigated. Aim of the present study was to evaluate the impact of baseline CVD risks on radiation-induced cardiac toxicity. Methods Two hundred ten patients with left-sided breast cancer treated in the prospective Save-Heart Study using a deep inspiration breath-hold (DIBH) technique were analysed regarding baseline risk factors for CVD. Three frequently used prediction tools (Procam, Framingham and Reynolds score) were applied to evaluate the individual CVD risk profiles. Moreover, 10-year CVD excess absolute risks (EAR) were estimated using the individual mean heart dose (MHD) of treatment plans in free breathing (FB) and DIBH. Results The individual baseline CVD risk factors had a strong impact on the 10-year cumulative CVD risk. The mean baseline risks of the non-diabetic cohort (n = 200) ranged from 3.11 to 3.58%, depending on the risk estimation tool. A large number of the non-diabetic patients had a very low 10-year CVD baseline risk of <= 1%; nevertheless, 8-9% of patients reached >= 10% baseline 10-year CVD risk. In contrast, diabetic patients (n = 10) had significantly higher baseline CVD risks (range: 11.76-24.23%). The mean 10-year cumulative risk (Framingham score) following RT was 3.73% using the DIBH-technique (MHD:1.42Gy) and 3.94% in FB (MHD:2.33Gy), after adding a 10-year-EAR of + 0.34%(DIBH) and + 0.55%(FB) to the baseline risks, respectively. Smoking status was one of the most important and modifiable baseline risk factors. After DIBH-RT, the 182 non-smoking patients had a mean 10-year cumulative risk of 3.55% (3.20% baseline risk, 0.35% EAR) as compared to 6.07% (5.60% baseline risk, 0.47% EAR) for the 28 smokers. Conclusion In the present study, all CVD prediction tools showed comparable results and could easily be integrated into daily clinical practice. A systematic evaluation and screening helps to identify high-risk patients who may benefit from primary prevention. This could result in an even higher benefit than from heart-sparing irradiation techniques alone.