Objective: The implementation of evidence-based secondary medical prevention in peripheral arterial disease (PAD) patients has received increasing attention in recent years, but population-based data are sparse. This study examined the use of secondary medical prophylaxis in unselected symptomatic PAD patients in Denmark.
Design: A nationwide follow-up study based on individual-level record linkages of population-based healthcare registers was performed.
Participants: All patients who underwent primary vascular reconstruction in Denmark between 1996 and 2006 with a minimum of 6 months of follow-up were included (n = 16,492).
Methods: Data were obtained from prescriptions that were filled six months after primary vascular reconstruction (±90 days). The use of secondary medical prevention was examined according to calendar year and place of residence.
Results: The use of lipid-lowering drugs increased from 32.2% in 1996 to 76.1% in 2006 (adjusted relative risk (RR) 1.95, 95% CI 1.81-2.10). The overall use of antihypertensive therapy was unchanged during the study period, but treatment shifted from diuretics/calcium antagonists towards angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor antagonists. The use of combination therapy (concomitant lipid-lowering, antiplatelet and any antihypertensive therapies) increased from 29.1% in 1996 to 67.6% in 2006 (adjusted RR 1.95, 95% CI 1.80-2.12). This shift in the use of secondary medical prevention was independent of sociodemographic and clinical factors. No substantial differences in pharmacological use based on place of residence were observed.
Conclusion: The use of evidence-based secondary medical prevention, especially lipid-lowering drugs, increased substantially among symptomatic PAD patients in Denmark from 1996 to 2006. However, recommendations in current clinical guidelines suggest that room for improvement remains.
Keywords: Nationwide follow up study; peripheral arterial disease; secondary medical prevention; vascular surgery.