The From The Heart study: a global survey of patient understanding of cholesterol management and cardiovascular risk, and physician-patient communication.
Hobbs FD., Erhardt LR., Rycroft C., Heart study investigators None.
OBJECTIVES: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of mortality worldwide. A high level of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is a major CVD risk factor. Guidelines recommend effective cholesterol management and set LDL-C goals, yet deficiencies exist in physician implementation of these recommendations and in patient uptake of the advice. However, little is known of patient perceptions about CVD risk. METHODS: Patients and physicians were randomly selected from ten countries to complete a confidential, semi-structured questionnaire. RESULTS: Response rates were 27% (n = 750) for physicians and 83% (n = 1547) for patients. Patients believed cancer (43%) to be a greater cause of mortality than heart attack or stroke (34%). Despite 77% of patients claiming to be satisfied with information on high cholesterol, only 26% were aware that heart attack was a possible consequence, and only 35% of patients thought they had achieved their cholesterol goals. Virtually all physicians (99%) claimed to inform patients of their cholesterol level, while 18% of patients reported that they were not informed. Although patients and physicians were selected at random, limitations of this survey relate typically to the reliability of physician and patient responses and the possibility that the survey population may not represent the overall population. A broad range of patients' backgrounds and a high response rate (83%) suggest these effects would be minimal in the patient population. CONCLUSIONS: The From The Heart study has shown surprisingly poor knowledge of CVD risk amongst patients with elevated cholesterol. This may contribute to poor concordance with recommendations and treatment.