Objective: The use of Framingham equations to determine 10-year absolute coronary risk ('global risk') represents an accepted strategy to target coronary prevention measures and enhance clinical outcomes. The aim of this study was to determine the effects of providing global risk scores to physicians on the prescription of lipid-lowering therapy for patients at increased coronary risk.
Research design and methods: This prospective, randomized controlled trial enrolled 368 primary-care patients without a history of coronary heart disease and not on therapy with a hydroxymethylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitor (i.e. statin). The study was conducted in the general medical clinics of an academic US teaching hospital. In the intervention group (n = 186) patients' charts were reviewed, 10-year absolute coronary risk computed, and this information conveyed via a simple educational tool appended to charts. In the control group (n = 182), charts were accompanied by a form with general information on coronary prevention goals and strategies.
Main outcome measure: The primary endpoint was the proportion of high-risk patients receiving a new statin prescription. Secondary and tertiary endpoints included (1) the proportion of moderate-risk patients receiving a statin prescription; and (2) the proportion of patients in the whole cohort who had other coronary prevention measures recommended.
Results: There was no significant difference in statin prescription to high-risk individuals in the intervention group (40.0%) compared with the control group (37.9%; p = 0.86). Moderate-risk individuals who were not eligible for treatment according to the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel II guidelines were more likely to receive a statin prescription in the intervention group versus the control group (28.8% vs. 12.5%. p = 0.036)
Conclusions: Although a simple global risk educational tool did not improve the targeting of statin therapy to patients at high absolute coronary risk, it may be of benefit in targeting moderate-risk individuals who do not have markedly elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels. Future research should evaluate the effects of physicians performing their own Framingham risk calculations on statin prescribing and on cholesterol goal attainment.