Objectives: To assess the practices of physicians in 12 European countries in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Methods: In 2009, 806 physicians from 12 European countries answered a questionnaire, delivered electronically or by post, regarding their assessment of patients with cardiovascular risk factors, and their use of risk calculation tools and clinical practice guidelines (ClinicalTrials.gov number: NCT00882336). Approximately 60 physicians per country were selected (participation rate varied between 3.1% in Sweden and 22.8% in Turkey).
Results: Among participating physicians, 85.2% reported using at least one clinical guideline for CVD prevention. The most popular were the ESC guidelines (55.1%). Reasons for not using guidelines included: the wide choice available (47.1%), time constraints (33.3%), lack of awareness of guidelines (27.5%), and perception that guidelines are unrealistic (23.5%). Among all physicians, 68.5% reported using global risk calculation tools. Written charts were the preferred method (69.4%) and the most commonly used was the SCORE equation (35.4%). Reasons for not using equations included time constraints (59.8%), not being convinced of their usefulness (21.7%) and lack of awareness (19.7%). Most physicians (70.8%) believed that global risk-equations have limitations; 89.8% that equations overlook important risk factors, and 66.5% that they could not be used in elderly patients. Only 46.4% of physicians stated that their local healthcare framework was sufficient for primary prevention of CVD, while 67.2% stated that it was sufficient for secondary prevention of CVD.
Conclusions: A high proportion of physicians reported using clinical guidelines for primary CVD prevention. However, time constraints, lack of perceived usefulness and inadequate knowledge were common reasons for not using CVD prevention guidelines or global CVD risk assessment tools.