DISTRIBUTED JULY 20, 1998 CONTACT: CAROL CRUZAN MORTON
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE SCIENCE@BROWN.EDUDoctors not providing best care for preventing heart attacks, study finds
Less than half the people with high cholesterol and coronary heart disease received the recommended advice and medication to aggressively manage risky cholesterol levels, according to a study by Dr. Charles Eaton. The study provides the first national cross-section study of cholesterol testing and management in different medical practices.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Millions of people may not be receiving the best treatment they need to prevent a fatal heart attack, according to Brown University researchers.
Less than half the people with high cholesterol and coronary heart disease received the recommended advice and medication to aggressively manage risky cholesterol levels, says Charles Eaton M.D., an associate professor in family medicine at Brown and director of the Heart Disease Prevention Center at Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket, R.I.
Published in the May issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Practice, the study provides the first national cross-section study of cholesterol testing and management among different medical practices.
Lowering cholesterol can reduce artery blockage and prevent early deaths from heart disease and others causes, Eaton says. In this study, family physicians, general internists and cardiologists were all providing sub-optimal care for more than half their patients. Even fewer patients were given cholesterol screening tests at their annual exams.
"This study shows we have a problem," Eaton says. "We are not managing patients as effectively as we should be in the screening and treatment of high cholesterol."
Healthy people need a cholesterol test every five years. Men over 45 and postmenopausal women need full lipid panels every other year. Talk to your doctor about treatment if your cholesterol level is above 200, your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) level is less than 35, or your low-density lipoprotein (LDL) level tops 160 (100 for people with heart disease).
The data come from a U.S. government's biannual survey of 34,000 patient visits to 1,400 physicians during a week in 1991. Three years earlier, the first national cholesterol guidelines had recommended prescribing lipid-lowering drugs as well as diet and exercise for patients with high cholesterol or coronary heart disease.
Scott Turner or Carol Morton (401) 863-2476, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Charles Eaton, (401) 729-2625######