Objectives: To compare the management of heart failure with the standards set out in the National Service Framework for Coronary Heart Disease.
Study design: A cross-sectional study in 26 general practices, with a combined list size of 256,188, that are members of the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Primary Care Research Network.
Methods: Information was extracted on the management of 2129 patients with heart failure, of whom 2097 were aged 45 years and over.
Results: The prevalence of heart failure was 8.3 per 1000. Prevalence rates increased with age, from 0.2 per 1000 in people aged under 35 years of age to 125 per 1000 in those aged 85 years and over. Coronary heart disease (present in 47%) was the most common comorbid condition in men with heart failure, whereas hypertension (present in 46%) was the most common condition in women. Recording of cardiovascular risk factors was generally higher in younger patients than in older patients, and in men than in women. Blood pressure (92% of men and 90% of women) and smoking status (84% of men and 77% of women) were generally the best-recorded cardiovascular risk factors. Blood electrolytes were recorded in about 83% of men and 75% of women. Only 17% of men and 11% of women with heart failure had a record of undergoing an echocardiogram. Use of angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or antagonists was 76% in men with heart failure and 68% in women; lowest rates were seen in older patients. Uptake of influenza immunization was generally high, at 85% in men and 84% in women.
Conclusions: The use of ACE inhibitors in patients with heart failure was higher than in some previous studies. However, many patients have no documentation in their computerized medical records of having undergone key investigations, such as echocardiography.