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Drug therapy of coronary heart disease--are therapeutic guidelines being paid attention to?

Böger GI, Hoopmann M, Busse R, Budinger M, Welte T, Böger R

Zeitschrift für Kardiologie 92(6): 466-475



Drug therapy of coronary heart disease (CHD) is a life-long treatment. With every change from in-patient to out-patient care and back, changes in medication may occur. If a drug is chosen which provides no proven long-term benefit in terms of reduced morbidity and mortality, the expected therapeutic benefit may be missed. We investigated in 224 patients admitted to the medical departments of two hospitals (one with a specialized Cardiology Unit, one with a General Internal Medicine Unit) the prescriptions for CHD by the general practitioner before admittance into the hospital, the prescriptions recommended at the time of discharge, and the prescriptions made by the general practitioner three months after discharge. Of the drug classes with proven effects on morbidity and mortality (acetylsalicylic acid, beta-blockers, statins, ACE inhibitors), none had sufficiently high prescription rates. Prescription rates at discharge were 30% for beta-blockers and statins, 70% for acetylsalicylic acid, and 60% for ACE inhibitors. Only in patients with acute myocardial infarction were the prescription rates for these drug classes higher at this time point. The presence of contraindications was not of prime importance for the low prescription rates, as even in patients without contraindications prescription rates were not significantly higher than in the total patient cohort. Out of the patients with hypercholesterolemia, one third of those treated in the Cardiology Department and two thirds of those treated in the General Internal Medicine Department were not given any lipid-lowering medication. Prescription rates for those drug classes that provide symptomatic relief but have little impact on mortality rates (calcium channel blockers, nitrates) were high in both hospitals. The present study shows that evidence-based guidelines for the drug treatment of coronary heart disease are not adequately put into practice.

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