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Background: Previous reports suggest that patients with suspected heart failure are inadequately investigated and that patients who do have heart failure are sub-optimally treated. Guidelines on the diagnosis and treatment of heart failure have been published by the European SoCiety of Cardiology and provide a framework for the management of heart failure against which to judge current medical practice. Both primary care and hospital physicians are responsible for ensuring appropriate management of patients with heart failure. This programme concentrates on management of heart failure in primary care and is complementary to a similar exercise that will be conducted in 50 European regions (EUROHEART-CHF). Aims: The IMPROVEMENT of HF initiative investigates, in Europe, how primary care physicians perceive heart failure should be diagnosed and treated and whether they perceive that they are provided with adequate support to implement best medical practice. Subsequently, their perceptions are compared to their actual practice by reviewing relevant case notes. The results will be used to recommend changes in practice. A future study is planned to analyse the impact of the initiative. Methods: The initiative comprises a research phase and an educational phase. For the research phase, 10 regional centres (to include both urban and rural areas) from each of 14 participating countries have been identified and each region has randomly selected 10 primary healthcare physicians. The primary healthcare physicians are participating in two surveys: a 'perception' survey and an 'actual practice' survey. For the 'actual practice' survey, the physicians are supplying case notes of nine patients who have or are at high risk of having heart failure. The results of these surveys will be used to organise an educational programme. Conclusion: This study is expected to provide valuable data on the perceptions of primary care physicians about heart failure, possible deficiencies in the current provision of care and how any deficiencies may be corrected. (C) 1999 Published by European Society of Cardiology.

Original publication




Journal article


European Journal of Heart Failure

Publication Date





139 - 144