Background: Current guidelines from the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) define low thresholds for the diagnosis of dyslipidemia using total cholesterol (TC) and LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C) to guide treatment. Although being mainly a prevention tool, its thresholds are difficult to meet in clinical practice, especially primary care.
Methods: In a nationwide study with 1,511 primary care physicians and 35,869 patients we determined the prevalence of dyslipidemia, its recognition, treatment, and control rates. Diagnosis of dyslipidemia was based on TC and LDL-C. Basic descriptive statistics and prevalence rate ratios, as well as 95% confidence intervals were calculated.
Results: Dyslipidemia was highly frequent in primary care (76% overall). 48.6% of male and 39.9% of female patients with dyslipidemia was diagnosed by the physicians. Life style intervention did however control dyslipidemia in about 10% of patients only. A higher proportion (34.1% of male and 26.7% female) was controlled when receiving pharmacotherapy. The chance to be diagnosed and subsequently controlled using pharmacotherapy was higher in male (PRR 1.15; 95%CI 1.12-1.17), in patients with concomitant cardiovascular risk factors, in patients with hypertension (PRR 1.20; 95%CI 1.05-1.37) and cardiovascular disease (PRR 1.46; 95%CI 1.29-1.64), previous myocardial infarction (PRR 1.32; 95%CI 1.19-1.47), and if patients knew to be hypertensive (PRR 1.18; 95%CI 1.04-1.34) or knew about their prior myocardial infarction (PRR 1.17; 95%CI 1.23-1.53).
Conclusion: Thresholds of the ESC seem to be difficult to meet. A simple call for more aggressive treatment or higher patient compliance is apparently not enough to enhance the proportion of controlled patients. A shift towards a multifactorial treatment considering lifestyle interventions and pharmacotherapy to reduce weight and lipids may be the only way in a population where just to be normal is certainly not ideal.