Within the next 20 years cardiovascular disease is expected to become the leading cause of premature death and overall mortality worldwide. Because cardiovascular disease is multi-factorial in nature, global risk assessment is required. Treatments for cardiovascular disease are among the most evidence-based therapies available to clinicians, and evidence of treatment benefit has resulted in clear guidelines regarding which interventions to use. Nevertheless, there is considerable variation within health care systems with regard to the diagnosis, management and follow-up of patients with cardiovascular disease. Two recent European surveys, conducted among patients and physicians, have provided evidence of factors that may contribute to this variability in clinical performance. © 2002 The European Society of Cardiology.

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