How general practitioners perceive and grade the cardiovascular risk of their patients.
ABSTRACT Although risk assessment charts have been proposed to identify patients at high cardiovascular risk, in everyday practice general practitioners (GPs) often use their knowledge of the patients to estimate the risk subjectively.
A cross-sectional study aimed to describe how GPs perceive, qualify and grade cardiovascular risk in everyday practice.
General practitioners had to identify in a random sample of 10% of their contacts the first 20 consecutive patients perceived as being at cardiovascular risk. For each patient essential data were collected on clinical history, physical examination and laboratory tests, for the qualification of risk. At the end of the process GPs subjectively estimated the overall patient's level of risk. General practitioners grading was compared with the risk estimate from a reference chart.
Over a mean time of 25 days 3120 patients perceived as being at cardiovascular risk were enrolled. According to the inclusion scheme each GP had contact with more than 200 patients at cardiovascular risk every month. Thirty percent of these patients had atherosclerotic diseases. Up to 72% of patients without any history of atherosclerotic diseases but perceived to be at risk could be classified according to a reference chart as being at moderate to very high risk. Comparing GPs' grading of risk with a chart estimate there was agreement in 42% of the cases. Major determinants of GPs' underestimation of risk were age, sex and smoking habits, while obesity and family history were independently associated with overestimation.
On the basis of their perception GPs properly identify patients at cardiovascular risk in the majority of cases. General practitioners subjective grading of risk level only partially agreed with that given by a chart.
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ABSTRACT: ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The optimization of preventive strategies in patients at high risk of cardiovascular events and the evaluation of bottlenecks and limitations of transferring current guidelines to the real world of clinical practice are important limiting steps to cardiovascular prevention. Treatment with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids improves prognosis after myocardial infarction, but evidence of this benefit is lacking in patients at high cardiovascular risk, but without a history of myocardial infarction. Methods/design Patients were eligible if their general practitioner (GP) considered them at high cardiovascular risk because of a cardiovascular disease other than myocardial infarction, or multiple risk factors (at least four major risk factors in non-diabetic patients and one in diabetics). Patients were randomly allocated to treatment with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (1 g daily) or placebo in a double-blind study and followed up for five years by their GPs to assess the efficacy of the treatment in preventing cardiovascular mortality (including sudden death) and hospitalization for cardiovascular reasons. The secondary, epidemiological, aim of the study is to assess whether it is feasible to adopt current guidelines in everyday clinical practice, with a view to optimizing all the available preventive strategies in people at high cardiovascular risk. A nation-wide network of 860 GPs admitted 12,513 patients to the study between February 2004 and March 2007. The mean age was 64 years and 62% were males. Diabetes mellitus plus one or more cardiovascular risk factors was the main inclusion criterion (47%). About 30% of patients were included because of a history of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, 21% for four or more risk factors, and less than 1% for other reasons. DISCUSSION: The Rischio&Prevenzione (R&P) project provides a feasible model to test the efficacy of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid therapy in patients at high cardiovascular risk with no history of myocardial infarction, and to assess how to implement recommended preventive strategies in general practice. Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00317707.Trials 05/2010; 11(1):68. · 2.21 Impact Factor
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