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Issue 95 Item 14 Report Shows That Thousands of Heart Failure Patients Are Not R

Mar 13, 2002

Despite strong evidence that demonstrates the benefits of adding beta-blockers to standard therapy, thousands of heart failure patients are not receiving this class of drugs as part of their treatment regimens, according to a nationwide survey of 400 cardiologists, internists, and general practitioners, known as the Heart Failure Report Card. The survey, conducted in conjunction with the Cardiovascular Institute of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Health System, showed that 87 percent of physicians polled say they clearly understand the benefits of beta-blockers as seen in clinical trials; however, this understanding isn’t translating into practice — physicians report that they prescribe beta-blockers to only one-third of their heart failure patients.

"We developed the Heart Failure Report Card to help us understand the current mindset and treatment patterns of physicians," said Arthur Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Cardiovascular Institute of UPMC Health System in Pennsylvania. Physicians surveyed were asked to give letter-grade scores to various questions such as patient understanding of the disease, compliance with the necessary lifestyle changes, physician satisfaction with current medications and the availability of education about heart failure treatment options.

Overall, physicians graded heart failure diagnosis and treatment in the United States with a letter-grade of "C." Based on the responses of the surveyed physicians, researchers concluded that the key to optimizing heart failure treatment is education about the use of emerging therapies in clinical practice.

"Beta-blockers are valuable tools for managing heart failure," continued Dr. Feldman. "When used in conjunction with other medications, they have been shown to increase survival, potentially improve symptoms, enhance quality of life and decrease hospitalizations. Unfortunately, the Report Card findings show that most physicians are either not prescribing them, or are waiting until symptoms have substantially worsened to prescribe them. We need to educate both physicians and patients on the most effective ways to incorporate them into treatment regimens." Source: PRNewswire