Background. Heart failure (HF) is a major clinical problem and a challenge for healthcare systems. Primary care physicians (PCPs) play an important role in the clinical management of HF patients. The aim of the present investigation was to evaluate the behaviors and problems of Italian PCPs in managing patients with HF. Methods. Clinical behaviors and perceived obstacles were evaluated through the administration of a modified version of the Euro-HF questionnaire to a nationwide sample of 385 PCPs. Results. Out of 389 042 persons entitled to receive their medical assistance, all PCPs declared to care 9263 patients with HF (prevalence of HF 2.4%, 24 HF patients/PCP). HF was diagnosed either by symptoms only (14% of cases), or by analysis of symptoms plus signs (57%), by combining the evidence of cardiac dysfunction by echocardiography to the assessment of symptoms and signs (12%) or by adding consultation by a cardiologist to the clinical assessment in the PCP office (17%). Forty-two percent of the PCPs participating in the survey had a free access to echocardiography whereas measurement of natriuretic peptide serum levels was freely available to 14% of PCPs. Pharmacological therapy for HF prescribed by the PCPs included in this survey included: diuretics (91%), inhibitors of the renin-angiotensin system (87%), digitalis (34%), beta-blockers (33%), aldosterone antagonists (23%). Drugs considered to potentially leading to major side effects were: digitalis (51%), beta-blockers (48%) and diuretics (47%), much less angiotensin-converting enzyme-inhibitors (17%) and aldosterone antagonists (14%). Consultation with a cardiologist for starting beta-blocker treatment was judged mandatory by 57% of PCPs. Management of HF patients was considered sufficient by 70% of PCPs. Improvement in the access to echocardiography, laboratory data and consultation with a specialist were the priorities indicated by PCPs for optimizing the management of HF patients. Conclusions. PCPs have a suboptimal approach to the diagnostic evaluation of HF patients and to implementation and management of beta-blocker therapy. These behaviors derive from a difficult access to echocardiography, laboratory parameters and consultation with a cardiologist.
|Translated title of the contribution||Heart failure in primary care in Italy: Analysis of management and needs by general practitioners|
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Giornale Italiano di Cardiologia|
|Publication status||Published - Sep 2010|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine