National Guidelines for Heart Disease Prevention Vary Widely

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<p>A five-nation study of national physician guidelines used for the prevention of cardiovascular disease finds that that even slight differences in screening and treatment recommendations can produce large differences in health consequences and overall costs.<br><br>For his study, "<a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=20061&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecmwf%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D329960%26%23doc329960">Evaluating National Guidelines for Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease</a>" <em>(Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice),</em> former Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellow Tom Marshall applied the national guidelines for Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States to a model population of 2,000 individuals aged 16 and older over a simulated five-year period. The most cost-effective guidelines, Marshall found, focus on older rather than younger patients and emphasize aspirin and early treatment of high blood pressure.<br><br>Under the New Zealand guidelines, Marshall found that costs are much lower than those of other countries, particularly Canada--with much of the difference due to the costs of patient assessment. The New Zealand guidelines, however, prevented the least amount of cardiovascular disease, while the Canadian guidelines prevented the most.</p>