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Original articles   

International Angiology 2008 October;27(5):426-32


lingua: Inglese

Occult atherosclerosis and physical vascular examination: a simple strategy to avoid inadequate cardiovascular prevention and under-use of diagnostic vascular guidelines in outpatients. A multicenter study by Angiology Care Units in North-Eastern Italy

Marzolo M. 1, Verlato F. 1, Zotta L. 1, Guadagnin M. L. 2, Borgese L. 3, Cravatari M. 4, Nardi M. 1, Camporese G. 1, Andreozzi G. M. 1

1 Angiology Care Unit, University Hospital of Padua, Padua, Italy 2 Vascular Laboratory of Internal Medicine, Hospital of Thiene, Vicenza, Italy 3 Vascular Laboratory of Internal Medicine, De Gironcoli Hospital of Conegliano, Treviso, Italy 4 Vascular Laboratory of Internal Medicine, University Hospital of Cattinara, Trieste, Italy


Aim. Recent studies show a high prevalence of inadequate secondary prevention in a subset of the US population at highest risk for stroke and acute myocardial infarction.
Methods. The present investigation evaluated subjects older than 50 years of age attending four Angiology Care Units in Northern Italy. The adequacy of risk factor (hypertension, body weight, cigarette smoking and hypercholesterolemia) control was in particular analyzed, and a search was made for occult atherosclerotic lesions during a thorough physical examination. Finally, adherence to diagnostic vascular guidelines was also evaluated.
Results. Twenty-two percent out of 483 patients enrolled in this study were found to have unexpected atherosclerotic lesions, 61.9% of the patients with a history of hypertension, 10.6% showed an inadequate control of blood pressure levels, 55% presented poor lipid control, 16.6% had not stopped smoking and 45.7% were overweight. The physical examination revealed that 13.8% of the patients had cervical bruits, 6.3% had aortic hyperpulsatility and 8.5% were lacking lower limb pulses, not previously diagnosed. It was found that in almost half of the participating patients diagnostic vascular guidelines were not being followed.
Conclusion. This study shows a high prevalence of inadequate primary and secondary prevention and under-use of diagnostic vascular guidelines in the care of high-risk patients (older than 50 years with diabetes, smokers, etc.). Considerable efforts are required to effectively implement risk factor modification strategies and, with regard to Angiology Care Units, to correctly search for occult atherosclerotic lesions in high-risk patients.

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