Around 21% of problems GPs manage are cardiovascular-related conditions and diabetes, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Approximately 11% of all problems were cardiovascular-related (conditions involving the heart and blood vessels), around 2% were diabetes-related, and 8% were risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as being overweight, having high blood pressure, blood lipid disorders or smoking cigarettes.
The report, A general practice view of cardiovascular disease and diabetes in Australia, produced with the University of Sydney, presents an overview of general practice care of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It is based on information drawn from 100,000 doctor-patient encounters between April 1998 and March 1999.
Co-author of the report, Susana Senes, said these data provide a starting point for comparing cardiovascular disease problems and treatment patterns in general practice, and will help build a comprehensive picture of trends in each area over time.
'In our health care system GPs are usually the first port of call for most patients. More than 85% of Australians visit their GP at least once a year, so this is where cardiovascular disease and diabetes problems are cared for first, ' Ms Senes said.
'Consultations with GPs also provide opportunities for prevention by raising awareness of the risks associated with certain behaviours and helping to modify them.
'However, when you look at the prevalence of overweight and obesity (51%) and of smoking (19%) among general practice patients, the proportion of consultations in which GPs manage these problems is quite low.'
High blood pressure is the most commonly managed problem in general practice and the most frequently managed cardiovascular risk factor, at around 8.5 million consultations and 435,000 new cases diagnosed by GPs each year.
The second most common cardiovascular risk factor managed by GPs is diabetes, at around 2.6 million consultations annually. About 137,000 new cases of type 2 (adult onset) diabetes are diagnosed in GPs' rooms each year.
Diabetes patients are also commonly treated for high blood pressure, lipid disorders, depression, heart disease, urinary disease and heart failure.
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