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 of Australia.
Dr Ruth Webster, of The George Institute for International Health, and her co-authors
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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."