Aims: Modification of vascular risk factors is effective in reducing mortality and morbidity in patients with symptomatic atherosclerosis; however, it is difficult to achieve and maintain. The aim of the Risk management in Utrecht and Leiden Evaluation (RULE) study was to assess risk factor status after referral in patients with established vascular disease or type 2 diabetes who took part in the multidisciplinary hospital-based vascular screening programme, Second Manifestations of ARTerial disease, compared with a group who did not participate in such a programme.
Methods and results: Patients with type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease or peripheral arterial disease referred by general practitioners to the medical specialist at the University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht (a setting with a vascular screening programme of systematic screening of risk factors followed by treatment advice) and the Leiden UMC (a setting without such a screening programme), were enrolled in the study. Blood pressure, levels of lipids, glucose and creatinine, weight, waist circumference and smoking status were measured in patients 12-18 months after referral to the two hospitals. A total of 604 patients were treated in the setting with a vascular screening programme and 566 in the setting without such a programme; 70% of all patients were male, with a mean age of 61 +/- 10 years. Amongst screened patients, systolic blood pressure [2.5 mmHg, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.3-4.6] and the level of LDL cholesterol (0.3 mmol L(-1), 95% CI 0.2-0.4) were lower compared with the group that received usual care, after a median of 16 months from referral.
Conclusion: Systematic screening of risk factors, followed by evidence-based, tailored treatment advice contributed to slightly better risk factor reduction in patients with established vascular disease or type 2 diabetes. However, a large proportion of patients did not reach the treatment goals according to (inter)national guidelines. Systematic screening of vascular risk factors alone is not enough for adequate risk factor management in high-risk patients.