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J Gen Intern Med. 2000 Apr;15(4):220-8.

Cardiovascular disease prevention practices by U.S. Physicians for patients with diabetes.

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General Medicine Division, Massachusetts General Hospital, Medical Services, and Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.



Cardiovascular diseases account for the majority of morbidity and mortality in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. We describe patterns of cardiovascular disease primary prevention practices used for patients with diabetes by U.S. office-based physicians.


We analyzed a representative sample of 14,038 visits from the 1995 and 1996 National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys (NAMCS), including 1,489 visits by patients with diabetes. Physicians completed visit forms describing diagnoses, demographics, services provided, and current medications. Diabetes was defined by diagnostic codes; patients with ischemic heart disease or younger than 30 years were excluded. We estimated national visit volumes by extrapolation using NAMCS sampling weights. Independent determinants of prevention practices were evaluated using multiple logistic regression. Actual visits sampled translated into an estimated 407 million office visits in 1995 and 1996, of which 44.8 million (11%) were by patients with diabetes. Overall, patients with diabetes received more cardiovascular disease prevention services than patients without diabetes, including cholesterol reduction (8% vs 5%, P <.001) and exercise counseling (22% vs 13%, P <.001), blood pressure measurement (82% vs 72%, P <.001), and aspirin prescription (5% vs 2%, P <.001). Patients with diabetes and hyperlipidemia were more likely to receive lipid-lowering medications than patients without these diagnoses (67% vs 51%, P =.007), but those who had diabetes and hypertension or who smoked were no more likely than those without to receive antihypertensive medications or smoking cessation counseling, respectively. These effects persisted in multiple logistic regression analyses controlling for potential confounders.


Patients with diabetes visiting U.S. physicians in 1995 and 1996 received somewhat more cardiovascular disease prevention services than patients without diabetes. Absolute rates of services, however, remained lower than desired based on national recommendations. Current evidence suggests that wider implementation of these recommendations can be expected to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in patients with diabetes.

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