Current European guidelines for management of cardiovascular disease: Is medical treatment in nearly half a population realistic?

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Abstract

Background

Health checks of the general population are widely used to prevent cardiovascular diseases, but are the current clinical guidelines from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) suitable for screening the general population?

Design

A cross-sectional, population-based study of 978 men and women aged 40–65 years examined in 2010–2011 was used to estimate the proportion of the general Danish population fulfilling the criteria from the clinical guidelines from the ESC on medical treatment and lifestyle intervention to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Methods

The ESC criteria for medical treatment and lifestyle intervention were applied to a general population using information on previous cardiovascular diseases, known diabetes, urinalbumin, smoking, total cholesterol, systolic and diabolic blood pressure, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and a multifactor risk score (SCORE).

Results

A total of 12.5% fulfilled the criteria for immediate medical treatment to prevent cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, 30.4% are recommended for medical treatment if an initial lifestyle intervention fails summing to 42.9% eligible for medical treatment. The majority (79%) of persons aged 60–65 years are eligible for medical treatment, while close to half (44.9%) of all persons aged 50–59 years are recommended for medical treatment.

Conclusion

If ESC’s guidelines were followed in Denmark, a conservative estimate shows that medical preventive treatment would involve nearly half the general population aged 40–65 years. The use of these guidelines in screening of the general population can be questioned as realistic and suitable.

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