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Stroke. 2009 Apr;40(4):1417-24. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.108.533018. Epub 2009 Feb 12.

Applying the evidence: do patients with stroke, coronary artery disease, or both achieve similar treatment goals?

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Division of Cardiology, Canadian Heart Research Centre and Terrence Donnelly Heart Centre, University of Toronto, Canada.



The importance of early and aggressive initiation of secondary prevention strategies for patients with both coronary artery disease (CAD) and cerebrovascular disease (CVD) is emphasized by multiple guidelines. However, limited information is available on cardiovascular protection and stroke prevention in an outpatient setting from community-based populations. We sought to evaluate and compare differences in treatment patterns and the attainment of current guideline-recommended targets in unselected high-risk ambulatory patients with CAD, CVD, or both.


This multicenter, prospective, cohort study was conducted from December 2001 to December 2004 among ambulatory patients in a primary care setting. The prospective Vascular Protection and Guidelines-Oriented Approach to Lipid-Lowering Registries recruited 4933 outpatients with established CAD, CVD, or both. All patients had a complete fasting lipid profile measured within 6 months before enrollment. The primary outcome measure was the achievement of blood pressure (BP) <140/90 mm Hg (or <130/80 mm Hg for patients with diabetes) and LDL cholesterol <2.5 mmol/L (<97 mg/dL) according to the Canadian guidelines in place at that time (similar to the National Cholesterol Education Program's value of 100 mg/dL). Secondary outcomes include use of antithrombotic, antihypertensive, and lipid-modifying therapies.


Of the 4933 patients, 3817 (77%) had CAD only; 647 (13%) had CVD only; and 469 (10%) had both CAD and CVD. Mean+/-SD age was 67+/-10 years, and 3466 (71%) were male. Mean systolic and diastolic BPs were 130+/-16 and 75+/-9 mm Hg, respectively. Minor but significant differences were observed on baseline BP, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol measurements among the 3 groups. Overall, 83% of patients were taking a statin and 93% were receiving antithrombotic therapy (antiplatelet and/or anticoagulant agents). Compared with patients with CAD, those with CVD only were less likely to achieve the recommended BP (45.3% vs 57.3%, respectively; P<0.001) and lipid (19.4% vs 30.5%, respectively; P<0.001) targets. Among patients with CVD only, women were less likely to achieve the recommended BP and lipid targets compared with their male counterparts (for LDL cholesterol <2.5 mmol/L, 18.7% vs 23.8%, respectively; P=0.048). In multivariable analysis, patients with CVD alone were less likely to achieve treatment success (BP or lipid targets) after adjusting for age, sex, diabetes, and use of pharmacologic therapy.


Despite the proven benefits of available antihypertensive and lipid-lowering therapies, current management of hypertension and dyslipidemia continues to be suboptimal. A considerable proportion of patients failed to achieve guideline-recommended targets, and this apparent treatment gap was more pronounced among patients with CVD and women. Quality improvement strategies should target these patient subgroups.

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