The majority of cardiologists were both familiar with (84%) and confident in (74%) the four new prevention guidelines released last November by the ACC and the American Heart Association (AHA), in collaboration with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), according to a December CardioSurve survey.
The survey was conducted specifically to gauge ACC member awareness of the new guidelines, which focus on the assessment of cardiovascular risk, lifestyle modifications to reduce cardiovascular risk and management of elevated blood cholesterol and body weight in adults. It also sought to understand the impact of mainstream media reports that raised concerns about the blood cholesterol and risk assessment guidelines and, more specifically, the accompanying online risk calculator.
While one out of four cardiologists (24%) said they were not confident in the guidelines, and expressed concerns with how they were developed and rolled out, more than half were comfortable with the guidelines and were even considering making a change in patient treatment concerning statin therapy based on the included recommendations. In addition, nearly one in three cardiologists (32%) said patients had asked them specifically about the newly updated cholesterol guidelines.
In terms of prevention guideline tools for clinicians, more than half of survey respondents (56%) said they had the information necessary to properly respond to patient questions.
In addition, 74% of clinicians surveyed said they had some familiarity with the ACC/AHA online risk calculator that was released at the same time as the guidelines. Of those, 24% had used the calculator and indicated they would continue to use it, while 44% had not used it, but planned to. Another 24% said they had no intention of using the calculator.
Of the cardiologists who desired more in- formation about the guidelines, 30% expressed interest in more general information about the new guidelines, while 26% said they wanted a more concise summary of the guidelines and a bettier tutorial of the online risk calculator.
“Both the guidelines and the risk calculator are based on the best evidence available as determined by the expert panels,” said ACC President John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC. “That being said, the resulting discussions raised by the media and others are important ones for all of us to have as we move forward with tracking patients and reviewing new evidence and research over time. Science is an evolutionary process and there is no doubt, as with all guidelines and tools, that new science will lead to updates and improvements.”
Meanwhile, the ACC/AHA Task Force on Practice Guidelines is already working to develop collaborative models to update the prevention guidelines in partnership with NHLBI.
The College also continues to feature expert commentary and develop case challenges on ACC.org to help cardiovascular professionals better understand and implement the guideline recommendations. Most recently, the ACC and AHA released a new ASCVD Risk Estimator mobile app that replaces the early online risk calculator and is designed to help health care providers engage in discussions with their patients about their cardiovascular risk. Learn more at ACC.org/Prevention.