Randomised controlled trial of follow up care in general practice of patients with myocardial infarction and angina. Final results of the Southampton heart integrated care project (SHIP)
Objective: To assess the effectiveness of a programme to coordinate and support follow up care in general practice after a hospital diagnosis of myocardial infarction or angina. Design: Randomised controlled trial; stratified random allocation of practices to intervention and control groups. Setting: All 67 practices in Southampton and south west Hampshire, England. Subjects: 597 adult patients (422 with myocardial infarction and 175 with a new diagnosis of angina) who were recruited during hospital admission or attendance at a chest pain clinic between April 1995 and September 1996. Intervention: Programme to coordinate preventive care led by specialist liaison nurses which sought to improve communication between hospital and general practice nurses to provide structures follow up. Main outcome measures: Serum total cholesterol concentration, blood pressure, distance walked in 6 minutes, confirmed smoking cessation, and body mass index measured at 1 year follow up. Results: Of 559 surviving patients at 1 year, 502 (90%) were followed up. There was no significant difference between the intervention and control groups in smoking (cotinine validated quit rate 19% v 20%), lipid concentrations (serum total cholesterol 5.80 v 5.93 mmol/l), blood pressure (diastolic pressure 84 v 85 mmHg), or fitness (distance walked in 6 minutes 443 v 433 m). Body mass index was slightly lower in the intervention group (27.4 v 28.2; P = 0.08). Conclusions: Although the programme was effective in promoting follow up in general practice, it did not improve health outcome. Simply coordinating and supporting existing NHS care is insufficient. Ischaemic heart disease is a chronic condition which requires the same systematic approach to secondary prevention applied in other chronic conditions such as diabetes mellitus.