Low rates of preventive practices in patients with peripheral vascular disease.
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BACKGROUND: Patients with peripheral vascular disease (PVD) have a three-fold increased risk of myocardial infarction, stroke and death. Recently, a number of therapies have been demonstrated to prevent morbidity or mortality in patients with PVD or other arterial disease. Given the scarcity of data on the preventive practice patterns of this high risk patient group, the in-hospital management of patients admitted to hospital for a peripheral vascular intervention was reviewed. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Charts of 195 patients with a diagnosis of peripheral arteriosclerotic disease (International Classification of Diseases, 9th revision, code 440.2) who were hospitalized at a tertiary care hospital in Ontario between June 1996 and June 1998 were reviewed. RESULTS: The average age of patients admitted was 70.6 years, and 39% of patients were women. The main reason for admission was peripheral artery bypass graft surgery in 88% (172 of 195). Fifty-four per cent (106 of 195) of patients had clinically apparent coronary or cerebrovascular disease, and 92% (180 of 195) of patients had at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor. Fewer than half of all patients (49%) were discharged on any antithrombotic therapy (antiplatelet agent or anticoagulant), and a small proportion of patients were treated with a beta-blocker (20%) and cholesterol-lowering medications (16%). CONCLUSIONS: The leading cause of morbidity and mortality in PVD patients is coronary and cerebrovascular disease. Despite this, the use of proven antithrombotic agents and other cardiac medications is suboptimal. Health professionals need to be aware of the high risk nature of the PVD population and to develop strategies to ensure that patient care is optimized.
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