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Objective. We aimed to assess general practice care for patients following a myocardial infarction (MI). Method. A structured review was carried out of general practice records of patients identified from hospital administration data. A total of 266 survivors following MI were identified from the discharge data of 13 hospitals in Southern England and registered with 71 GPs belonging to the Wessex Research Network. Median time since hospital discharge was 2.1 years. The main outcome measures were the provision of appropriate preventive care, including cardiac rehabilitation, drug therapy, and lifestyle advice for modifiable risk factors. Results. Basic care was provided to nearly all patients; 253 (95.1 %, 95% Cl 91.8-97.4) had blood pressure documented after their MI, 216 of 234 patients eligible for aspirin (92.3%; 88.1-95.4) had been recommended treatment, and the provision of advice on smoking cessation was documented for 27 of 33 continuing smokers (81.8%; 64.5-93.0). However, only 73 of 236 patients eligible to attend a structured rehabilitation programme (30.9%; 25.0-36.8) were documented as having received rehabilitation. Of 89 patients with heart failure following MI, 33 (37.1%; 27.1-48.0) had no record of having been offered treatment with an ACE inhibitor. Total cholesterol measurement was documented for only 144 patients (54.1%; 48.1-60.1). We estimate that there is still the potential to prevent between 4 and 9 deaths in this group of 266 surviving patients in the next 2 years by further improving the quality of follow-up care. Conclusions. Preventive care in patients with proven ischaemic heart disease in general practice remains haphazard, even among doctors enthusiastic to participate in research and to audit their quality of care. As general practitioners we should ensure that we are providing high quality preventive care to patients with clinical disease before we focus on the even more demanding task of primary prevention.

Original publication




Journal article


Family Practice

Publication Date





220 - 226