Objective: In spite of a wide diffusion of the European guidelines for prevention of cardiovascular (CV) diseases, failures in both primary and secondary CV prevention are currently acknowledged. We wanted to uncover obstacles to CV prevention related to the general practitioner's (GP) knowledge and attitudes.
Methods and results: A postal questionnaire was sent to a random sample of GPs from two Belgian provinces. 282 GPs (32%) answered the questionnaire. The proportion of adequate answers was calculated for each item. The main obstacles related to three domains. Regarding awareness of CV burden, 83% of the GPs underestimated the lethality of myocardial infarction and 41% underestimated the prevalence of high CV risk in the adult population. Regarding CV risk assessment, 80% thought that total cholesterol (TC) adequately reflected the individual CV risk; only 55% systematically registered the patient's CV risk factors in the medical record. A tool for global CV risk assessment was never used by 53% of the GPs. Regarding CV therapeutic attitudes, 66% systematically prescribed a lipid-lowering drug to patients with high TC while 62% did not take into account the evidence-based therapeutic targets in type 2 diabetic patients.
Conclusions: This survey showed that these GPs underestimated the CV burden, lacked a systematic approach to global risk assessment and used to focus on cholesterol treatment rather than on global CV risk management.