Background: A great deal of research has demonstrated the benefits of treating patients with chronic heart failure with Angiotensin Converting Enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. There is rather less research on the actual uptake of treatment in general practice, and in particular methods that might improve that uptake.
Aim: To study the attitudes and practice of medical practitioners in North Cumbria in the treatment of heart failure.
Method: Semi-structured interviews with 16 general practitioners and nine hospital physicians in the Carlisle area and an audit of general practice case notes.
Results: Two hundred and fifty-eight patients were identified with heart failure. Prevalence was 1.1%. Fifty percent were on an ACE inhibitor, the mean dose of which was less than half the typical research dose. Patients who had an echocardiogram were much more likely to be on an ACE inhibitor. General practitioners were enthusiastic to use ACE inhibitors, but felt that greater access to echocardiography was required. Hospital physicians were happy to improve access within an agreed protocol.
Conclusion: Improved uptake of ACE inhibitors could be assisted by the development of a protocol for investigation and treatment. This protocol should be evidence-based and agreed between local GPs, hospital physicians and the Health Authority.