Macrovascular risk factors in patients with diabetes: physician treatment strategies and extent of control
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OBJECTIVE: To describe current approaches used by physicians to address macrovascular risk factors among patients with diabetes and their effect on glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), blood pressure, and cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol [LDL-C]) goal attainment. METHODS: Newly referred or diagnosed patients with diabetes (N = 1,808) under the care of 133 community physicians were enrolled in a 12-month prospective multi-center observational study. The invited physicians treat a large number of patients with diabetes and included endocrinologists, internists, and primary care physicians. Patient and physician characteristics, physician ranking of treatment strategy priority, and patient ranking of diabetes-related complications of greatest concern were recorded at enrollment. Follow-up treatment rates and goal attainment rates for glucose (HbA1c <7%), cholesterol (LDL-C <100 mg/dL), and blood pressure (less than 130/80 mm Hg) were examined, both overall and for the most frequently occurring treatment strategies. RESULTS: After evaluating the metabolic profiles of patients enrolled in the study, physicians assigned the highest treatment priority to glucose control for 67.6% of patients. Treatment rates during the 12-month follow-up were highest for glycemic control (87.2%), followed by blood pressure management (77.9%), and lipid control (63.9%). Among treated patients, goal attainment for HbA1c, LDL-C, and blood pressure was 57.6%, 47.7%, and 22.8%, respectively. Regardless of treatment strategy, follow-up goal attainment was the highest for HbA1c (54.8% to 72.3%), followed by LDL-C (41.7% to 48.4%), and lowest for blood pressure (12.0% to 37.1%). CONCLUSION: These findings suggest the need for strategies that emphasize combined glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol treatment in order to achieve more effective control of microvascular and macrovascular risk factors among patients with diabetes.
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