Objective: To compare the perceptions of heart failure (HF) diagnosis and management between clinical cardiologists (CC) and family doctors (FD) in the city of Niterói.
Methods: A qualitative questionnaire, validated by the EURO-HF study, was submitted to 54 FD and 62 CC. These professionals supplied the following information: HF diagnosis; availability of complementary tests; which tests were used more often; names, dosages and adverse effects of the medications prescribed; and which pharmaceuticals reduced mortality.
Results: FD and CC reported that the most common signs and symptoms identified by HF patients were: dyspnea, edema and fatigue (96.3% vs. 100%, 74% vs. 58% and 22.2% vs. 67.7%). The HF classification method used most often by FD was mild/moderate/severe (53.8%) while the CC used the NYHA method (72.7%) more often. CC request echocardiograms more often than FD (p < 0.001). CC differentiate HF with preserved systolic function from HF with systolic dysfunction more often than FD (p < 0.001). CC use beta-blockers (p < 0.001), angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (p < 0.001) and spironolactone (p < 0.001) more often than FD. The angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor dosages used by CC are greater than those used by FD (p < 0.001) and the spironolactone dosages used by CC are closer to those recommended in medical literature.
Conclusion: CC use a more intensive investigative diagnosis and medications that are more effective in reducing morbidity and mortality rates for HF patients.