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Evidence Summary

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Providing patients and their care providers with information about cardiovascular disease risk may help with prevention measures

Usher-Smith JA, Silarova B, Schuit E, et al.  Impact of provision of cardiovascular disease risk estimates to healthcare professionals and patients: A systematic review  BMJ Open. 2015 October.

Review question

Does the provision of information on cardiovascular disease risk to healthcare professionals and patients have an impact on their decision-making, behaviour and ultimately patient health?

Background

Despite advances in diagnosis, treatment and prevention, cardiovascular disease remains the largest cause of death worldwide.

The focus on affordable effective prevention strategies has included identifying individuals at high risk for cardiovascular disease. This strategy utilizes cardiovascular risk models that provide healthcare professionals and patients with cardiovascular disease information that can estimate an individual’s risk of developing the disease based on certain factors.

To date, there has been no systematic effort to assess whether the provision of cardiovascular risk information to patients or practitioners has an impact on their behaviour or health outcomes.

How the review was done

A detailed search of several electronic databases for studies published from 2004 to 2013 was conducted.  Studies that focused on changes in patient and practitioner outcomes when cardiovascular disease risk models were used in clinical practice, were included in the review. 

A total of 196 studies were identified in searches, and 17 were included in the review after assessments for eligibility.

This review was funded by the European Commission Framework 7 and EPIC-CVD.

What the researchers found

The review showed that providing patients with information about the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases increases their accuracy of risk perception without decreasing their quality of life or increasing anxiety. 

There is limited evidence that providing risk information changes behaviours such as diet, smoking, physical activity or alcohol intake. However, due to low quality of the review, conclusions could not be made. 

When risk information is provided to healthcare professionals, there were changes in how they prescribed certain cholesterol-lowering and blood pressure medications, which may lead to reductions in the patient’s blood pressure and cholesterol. 

Conclusion

The review found that providing cardiovascular disease risk information to healthcare professionals and patients leads to precautionary measures being taken, and reduces some risk factors. There is a need for more research on the impact of the implementating cardiovascular risk models, with higher-quality studies and longer follow-up times to understand how to best communicate risk information to enhance understanding and encourage lifestyle changes.




Glossary

Risk factors
Aspects making a condition more likely.
Vascular
The body's network of blood vessels. It includes the arteries, veins, and capillaries that carry blood to and from the heart.

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