The value of a specialist lipid clinic

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Abstract

Aims

To establish the value of the first 3 years of a cardiovascular risk factor clinic in tackling the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Methods

A database review of all 339 patients referred to the clinic.

Results

Blood pressure levels in the hypertensive patients were significantly reduced and 9% of the smokers managed to quit for 12 months, half of them subsequently relapsing. Ninety-eight oral glucose tolerance tests were performed and 40% were abnormal yielding 10 patients with hitherto unsuspected diabetes and 29 with impaired glucose tolerance. Sixty-four of the 97 referrals of patients in the primary prevention group (no evidence of CVD) were found to have calculated Framingham coronary heart disease risk estimates of < 15% per decade, the lowest being 0.3%. Lipid levels were significantly reduced in both the hypercholesterolaemic (n = 290) and hypertriglyceridaemic (n = 49) patient groups through the use of more potent statins, extensive use of combination therapy and appropriate use of fibrates and omega-3 fish oil supplements. The annual drug cost per patient treated only increased from £310.72 to £398.08, yet there was a 3.5-fold increase in the number of patients achieving the General Medical Services 2 target of a total cholesterol < 5 mmol/l and a 4.5-fold increase in patients achieving the Joint British Societies 2 target of a low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol < 2 mmol/l.

Conclusion

The need for a specialist clinic was demonstrated by the 66% of primary prevention referrals who did not meet the current NICE treatment threshold. Additionally, the clinic was able to diagnose and treat 39 patients with undiagnosed diabetes mellitus/impaired glucose tolerance and 12 with hypothyroidism. LDL cholesterol was reduced overall by 36% implying a greater than one-third reduction in future cardiovascular events before the improvements in blood pressure control and smoking cessation are included and this was achieved at marginal extra cost to the mean drug bill at referral.

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