Assessing Screening Guidelines for Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors using Routinely Collected Data

Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 26;7(1):6488. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-06492-6.


This study investigates if laboratory data can be used to assess whether physician-retesting patterns are in line with established guidelines, and if these guidelines identify deteriorating patients in a timely manner. A total of 7594 patients with high cholesterol were studied, along with 2764 patients with diabetes. More than 90% of borderline high cholesterol patients are retested within the 3 year recommended period, however less than 75% of pre-diabetic patients have repeated tests within the suggested 1-year time frame. Patients with borderline high cholesterol typically progress to full high cholesterol in 2-3 years, and pre-diabetic patients progress to full diabetes in 1-2 years. Data from routinely ordered laboratory tests can be used to monitor adherence to clinical guidelines. These data may also be useful in the design of adaptive testing strategies that reduce unnecessary testing, while ensuring that patient deterioration is identified in a timely manner. Established guidelines for testing of total serum cholesterol for hypercholesterolemia are appropriate and are well-adhered to, whereas guidelines for glycated hemoglobin A1c testing for type 2 diabetes mellitus could be improved to bring them in line with current practice and avoid unnecessary testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Child
  • Diabetes Complications*
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Health Services Research / methods
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / complications*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult