Background: A pilot cardiovascular disease prevention project was implemented in the inner-city West Midlands. It was evaluated by comparing its effectiveness to a control group where full implementation was delayed by a year.
Methods: Cardiovascular risk factor data were extracted on all untreated patients 35 to 74 years old from electronic medical databases in six general practices. A best estimate of ten-year CVD risk cardiovascular risk was calculated on all patients using the extracted risk factor data. Default risk-factor values were used for all missing risk factor data. High risk patients were thus identified. In four practices a project nurse systematically invited, assessed and referred high risk patients for treatment. Two control practices were provided with a list of their high risk patients. The outcomes were the proportions of untreated high-risk patients who were assessed, identified as eligible for treatment and treated under two strategies for identifying and treating such patients in primary care.
Results: Of all high-risk patients suitable for inclusion in the project, 40.6% (95% CI: 36.7 to 45.7%) of patients in intervention practices were started on treatment were started on at least one treatment, compared to 12.7% (95% CI: 9.8% to 16.1%) in control practices.
Conclusion: A strategy using electronic primary care records to identify high risk patients for CVD prevention works best with a process for acting on information, ensuring patients are invited, assessed and treated.