Many general practice patients at
high risk of suffering cardiovascular events are not receiving adequate medical
treatment, according to the results of a study published in the Medical Journal
Dr Ruth Webster, of The George
Institute for International Health, and her co-authors
analysed data from 2618 adult
patients who presented to GPs over a five week period in
The data showed that 71 per cent
of patients eligible under clinical guidelines for lipid screening were either
not recognised as needing to be screened, were not prescribed appropriate medicines,
or, once prescribed, were not attaining recommended targets.
"Fewer than half of those
patients with established cardiovascular disease were being prescribed the
recommended combination of antihypertensive statin and antiplatelet
medications," Dr Webster said.
"Of those at high risk who had
not yet experienced a cardiovascular event, about a third were taking no
medications to modify their risk, and fewer than a quarter were prescribed the
recommended combination of antihypertensive and statin medications"
Dr Webster said low levels of
prescribing rates might be partly explained by GPs lacking appropriate data on
patient lipid levels.
"Treatment generally appears to
be based on levels of individual risk factors rather than on overall, or absolute,
risk," Dr Webster said.
GPs are expected to apply
multiple, sometimes conflicting, guidelines for identifying and managing
single-risk-factors for cardiovascular disease.
"Patient outcomes could be improved by developing a
single set of cardiovascular disease management guidelines."