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Cholesterol guidelines need to be followed

11th March 2010

A new study has warned that more lives could be saved if GPs followed guidelines for reducing cholesterol in patients at risk of heart disease.

However, while GPs in the UK did better than other European countries in this area, a leading cardiovascular expert has warned of the importance of making guidelines information "as easy and accessible as possible".

A study, published in the European Heart Journal, of 25,250 patients in Germany found that only about half were assigned the correct targets for lowering cholesterol amid concerns that this pattern could be repeated elsewhere in Europe.

It showed that women were most at risk of being given insufficient treatment because they were perceived as having a lower cardiovascular risk.

The study found that about 50 to 80 fewer heart attacks, strokes and heart disease-related deaths per 1,000 patients could be avoided over a 10-year period if all doctors adhered to the guidelines on cholesterol-lowering targets.

Professor Ian Graham, head of cardiovascular medicine at Trinity College Dublin and a spokesman for the European Society of Cardiology said the UK did better when it came to meeting correct cholesterol targets.

But he added: "There is a general principle of guideline fatigue. GPs are bombarded by targets. It's important to make guideline information as easy and accessible as possible."

Clinical cardiologist Professor Heribert Schunkert, who led the research, said the core question involved the perception of patient risk.

Men in England have on average a cholesterol level of 5.5mmol/l and women have a level of 5.6mmol/l.

 

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