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Family history questions boost detection of CVD

Questionnaires detailing family history of cardiovascular disease can help GPs identify a further 5% of their patients who are at high risk, a UK study reveals.

The number of patients classified as at high risk increased by 40.8% in a group receiving self-administered questionnaires, compared with 5.6% among controls, where family history detailed in patient records was taken into account. Overall, in the intervention group the proportion of patients found to be at high risk increased by 5.1 percentage points, compared with 0.5 percentage points in the control group.

Researchers recruited 748 patients aged 30 to 65 with no diagnosed cardiovascular disease, who were seen in 24 practices between 2007 and 2009. Both groups were given Framingham-based risk assessment, with the intervention group also asked to complete a patient questionnaire.

Professor Nadeem Qureshi, senior lecturer in primary care at the University of Nottingham and a GP in the city, suggested the questionnaire could be sent to all patients joining a practice: ‘Systematically collecting family history increases the proportion of people identified as having high cardiovascular risk for further targeted prevention and seems to have little or no effect on anxiety.'

The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.