Missed opportunities for the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease in Canada
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BACKGROUND: Strong evidence supports the use of antithrombotic agents (antiplatelets or oral anticoagulants), statins and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors in patients with atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease; beta-blockers are additionally indicated in patients with coronary artery disease. OBJECTIVES: The investigators sought to determine the extent to which guideline-recommended treatments and target goals are adopted in ambulatory patients with cardiovascular disease in Canada. METHODS: Two large, prospective, community-based registries (the Vascular Protection Registry and the Guideline Oriented Approach to Lipid Lowering Registry) enrolled 9809 outpatients with coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, peripheral vascular disease or multiple cardiovascular risk factors from primary care settings in nine provinces across Canada between 2001 and 2004. This analysis focused primarily on patients with cardiovascular disease (n=6296). RESULTS: At baseline, antithrombotics, statins and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors were used in 92%, 80% and 57% of patients, respectively; beta-blockers were used in 59% of patients with coronary artery disease. The dosing of most drug therapies was suboptimal compared with guideline-recommended dosing derived from clinical trials. Treatment goals for cardiovascular risk factors were suboptimally attained: low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in 50% of patients, total to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio in 51% of patients, systolic and diastolic blood pressure in 58% and 78% of patients, respectively, and waist circumference and body mass index in 45% and 19%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest specific opportunities for improving the care of patients with cardiovascular disease in Canada. The focus must now shift from awareness of treatment gaps to implementation of effective solutions.