Objectives: Cardiovascular disease is the major cause of morbidity and mortality in people with diabetes. The management of cardiovascular risk factors in people with diabetes in primary care was compared with National Institute of Clinical Excellence guidelines.
Design: A cross-sectional study in 26 general practices, with a combined list size of 256,188 patients, participating in the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Primary Care Research Network. Primary outcomes were process of care measures.
Methods: Analysis of general practice computer data on the management of 5980 patients with diabetes, of whom 86% were aged 45 years and over.
Results: The prevalence of diabetes was 2.0% in women and 2.6% in men, much lower than the estimated expected prevalence of 4.8% for women and 3.3% in men. Blood pressure was well recorded (96% in both sexes), cholesterol levels less well (79% of women, 84% of men). Hypertension (78% of women, 72% of men) was common. Twenty-one percent of women and 16% of men had a blood pressure above 160/100 mmHg, suggesting under use of antihypertensive therapy. Cholesterol levels were >or=5 mmol/l in 46% of women and 38% of men. Lipid-lowering drugs were prescribed in 38% of women and men. Aspirin was prescribed in 38% of women and 40% of men.
Conclusions: There is an under-diagnosis of diabetes and an under-treatment of blood pressure and blood cholesterol, more marked in women than in men. There is scope for improved management within general practice, including addressing sex inequalities.