Clinicians are missing golden opportunities to identify heart disease before patients start displaying symptoms, according to a study of 13,877 people published in the May issue of UK-based IJCP, the International Journal of Clinical Practice.
Researchers from Oregon, Maryland and Delaware, USA, found that just over 11% of the respondents had been diagnosed with heart disease. However, only 19% of those individuals - who had been involved in the ongoing study for two years - said that their heart disease was picked up during routine screening.
More than half of the diabetic patients with heart disease who took part in the study (54%) reported that their heart disease was diagnosed when they became symptomatic and a further 22% said it was picked up while they were being treated for other health issues.
The figures were lower for individuals without diabetes. Just under half (48%) were diagnosed with heart disease when they became symptomatic and 15% were picked up during treatment for other conditions.
"Our study showed that not enough patients with heart disease are being picked up during routine screening or treatment for conditions like diabetes, which are commonly associated with heart problems" says lead author Dr Sandra J Lewis from the Northwest Cardiovascular Institute in Portland, Oregon. "The majority of those who took part in the study were not diagnosed until they started displaying symptoms."
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for more than 450,000 deaths a year. Approximately 15.8 million Americans who are 20 or older suffer from the disease.
"Many individuals do not show symptoms and go undiagnosed until the disease is in an advanced state, often when they have actually had a heart attack" explains Dr Lewis.
"That is why it is so important to diagnose CHD before patients experience their first crisis, by looking at major
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