Continuously improving the practice of cardiology.
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Guidelines for the management of patients with cardiovascular disease are designed to assist cardiologists and other physicians in their practice. Surveys are conducted to assess whether guidelines are followed in practice. The results of surveys on acute coronary syndromes, coronary revascularisation, secondary prevention, valvular heart disease and heart failure are presented. Comparing surveys conducted between 1995 and 2002, a gradual improvement in use of secondary preventive therapy is observed. Nevertheless, important deviations from established guidelines are noted, with a significant variation among different hospitals in the Netherlands and in other European countries. Measures for further improvement of clinical practice include more rapid treatment of patients with evolving myocardial infarction, more frequent use of clopidogrel and glycoprotein IIb/IIIa receptor blockers in patients with acute coronary syndromes, more frequent use of β-blockers in patients with heart failure and more intense measures to encourage patients to stop smoking. Targets for the proportion of patients who might receive specific therapies are presented.
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