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Clin Cardiol. 2000 Mar;23(3):165-70.

Intensity of antianginal therapy in patients referred for coronary angiography: a comparison of fee-for-service and health maintenance organization therapeutic strategies.

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  • 1Division of Cardiology, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA.



No formal criteria have been developed to guide medical therapy for angina prior to revascularization, and no comparisons have been made between health maintenance organization (HMO) and fee-for-service (FFS) hospitals with respect to angina treatment.


Using a literature-based measure of medical intensity, we tested the hypothesis that there is no difference in anginal medical therapeutic intensity between HMO and FFS systems.


For each antianginal drug, we developed a model from which an intensity score between 0 and 100 could be calculated. Average and maximal daily doses of drug were fit to a sigmoid curve such that they represented scores of 50 and 99, respectively. Overall intensity scores were obtained by weighted and unweighted averaging of three scores from nitrates, calcium-channel blockers, and beta blockers. This model was applied to 199 patients undergoing angiography at an FFS and an HMO hospital.


HMO patients were taking more classes of antianginal drug (1.9 vs. 1.0, p < 0.001). Overall unweighted (17.7 vs. 11.7, p = 0.02) and weighted (27.3 vs. 16.9, p = 0.003) intensity scores for both HMO and FFS patients were low. HMO intensity scores for the use of beta blockers were greater than FFS scores (19.2 vs. 9.6, p = 0.002). The intensity scores for the use of nitrates and calcium blockers were similar.


Models for the measurement of anginal medical therapy intensity can provide important information regarding medical therapy prior to revascularization. The overall intensity of medical therapy was low in both health care systems. These findings have important implications for patient management, guideline development, and national healthcare policy.

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