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Control of Heart Risks May Vary Among Outpatient Practices

FRIDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- Management of heart disease risk factors -- such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking -- varies significantly among outpatient practices in the United States, according to a new study.

Researchers found that among 18 primary care and cardiology practices studied, the percentage of patients screened for smoking and counseled on how to quit ranged from about 54 percent to 86 percent. The study authors suggested outpatient practices can learn from one another and improve the prevention and management of disease.

"It's eye-opening for practices to see how much better or worse they're doing than their peers on nationally derived measures of quality. They can learn to improve in collaboration with others instead of alone," the study's lead author, Dr. Zubin Eapen, an assistant professor of medicine at Duke University in Durham, N.C., said in an American Heart Association news release.

In conducting the study, the researchers analyzed and compared the medical records of nearly 116,000 patients. The outpatient practices included in the study were involved in a collaboration of the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association, known as The Guideline Advantage.

The study also revealed that the percentage of people whose high blood pressure was under control ranged from just under 59 percent to 75 percent among the practices. In addition, the percentage of patients with diabetes who had their "bad" (LDL) cholesterol under control ranged from nearly 54 percent to 100 percent.

"Previously, we've focused on improving the quality of inpatient hospital care and haven't explored enough how to improve outpatient care," Eapen concluded. "This baseline snapshot lets us see just how much progress could be made in preventing or managing diseases."

The study findings were scheduled for presentation Friday at the American Heart Association meeting in Baltimore. The data and conclusions of research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute provides more information on heart disease risk factors.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, May 17, 2013

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