Nearly a quarter of patients with chronic ischaemic cardiovascular disease are dead or hospitalised within six months, according to a European Society of Cardiology (ESC) study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

The Chronic Ischaemic Cardiovascular Disease (CICD) Pilot Registry was designed to learn what happens to these patients in the six months after being seen by a health professional. The observational study was conducted as part of the EURObservational Research Programme (EORP) of the ESC.

The study included 2,420 patients from 100 hospitals and outpatient clinics in ten European countries. Participants had stable coronary disease or peripheral artery disease, the most common conditions seen by a cardiologist. Risk factors and treatments were recorded at the start of the study and have been previously reported. Treatments and outcomes were recorded at six months.

Follow-up data were available for 2,203 patients, of whom 522 (24%) had died or been rehospitalised during the six months. Factors significantly associated with the risk of dying or being rehospitalised were older age, with a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.17 for every ten years, history of peripheral revascularisation (HR 1.45), chronic kidney disease (HR 1.31) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (HR 1.42) (all p<0.05). The majority of the causes of death and rehospitalisation were cardiovascular.

The rate of prescription of angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors, beta-blockers (both drugs reduce blood pressure) and aspirin was lower at six months compared to the start of the study (all p<0.02).

Lead author Professor Michel Komajda, of the University Pierre and Marie Curie and Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, said: “These patients are at high risk of dying or being rehospitalised in the short-term and should be carefully monitored by physicians. We identified clinical factors which are strongly associated with this high risk which can easily be assessed.

“In absolute numbers the reductions were modest but they did reach statistical significance. This shows that patients have a better chance of receiving recommended medications while in hospital or directly after an outpatient appointment. Six months later, drugs they should be taking to reduce the risk of death and rehospitalisation are prescribed less frequently.”

He added: “It is likely that there is insufficient handover of these patients to a cardiologist or GP and so their prescriptions are not renewed.”

While the study did not assess the reasons for the reduction in prescriptions, possible factors include: patients getting tired of taking pills or cannot afford them.

Six month rates of death and rehospitalisation were significantly higher in eastern, western and northern European countries compared to those in the south.

Professor Komajda concluded: “The study shows that patients with chronic ischaemic cardiovascular disease have a high risk of poor short-term outcomes. Yet some are not receiving recommended preventive medications which could improve their outlook. More efforts are needed to ensure that these patients continue to be monitored and treated after they leave hospital or an outpatient appointment.”