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Despite strong evidence that demonstrates the benefits of adding beta-blockers to standard therapy, thousands of heart failure patients are not receiving this class of drugs as part of their treatment regimens.
Despite strong evidence that demonstrates the benefits of adding beta-blockers to standard therapy, thousands of heart failure patients are not receiving this class of drugs as part of their treatment regimens, according to data from a nationwide survey of 400 cardiologists, internists and general practitioners. The survey was conducted as part of an ongoing educational program called the Heart Failure Report Card, which is being carried out in association with Arthur Feldman, currently Magee Professor of Medicine and chairman of the department at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
"With heart failure being the only cardiovascular disease that is increasing in incidence in the United States, it is crucial that heart failure experts are utilizing beta-blockers to manage the condition," said Feldman. "When used in conjunction with other medications, they have been shown to increase survival, potentially improve symptoms, enhance quality of life and decrease hospitalizations." The survey findings show that 87% of physicians polled say they clearly understand the benefits of beta-blockers as seen in clinical trials. However, this understanding isn't translating into practice â physicians reported that they prescribe beta-blockers to only one-third of their heart failure patients.
Surveyed physicians also gave letter-grade scores to patient understanding of heart failure, compliance with necessary lifestyle changes, satisfaction with current medications and the availability of education about heart failure treatment options.
Results showed that physicians gave a mediocre letter-grade "C" to heart failure diagnosis and treatment in the United States and a below-average letter-grade "D+" to patient understanding of their disease and available treatment options.
To gain further insight into patient and consumer understanding of heart failure, researchers conducted two additional surveys. The first survey of 750 heart failure patients found that only 22% of patients reported taking a beta-blocker, similar to responses given by physicians. In addition, nearly two-thirds were unable to define heart failure. A second survey of 1,000 consumers found that although 89% of them correctly believe patients can live with heart failure, only 47% could correctly define the condition.
Based on the responses of the surveyed physicians, patients and consumers, researchers concluded that the key to optimizing heart failure treatment is education about the use of emerging therapies. "It is alarming that over one-third of patients could not correctly define heart failure and over one-half had no knowledge of heart failure before they were diagnosed," concluded Feldman. "Physicians, patients and consumers need to be better educated about heart failure and its treatments, and realize that there can be life after diagnosis." PR