Open Access Open Badges Research article

Quality of cardiovascular disease care in Ontario, Canada: missed opportunities for prevention - a cross sectional study

Clare Liddy12*, Jatinderpreet Singh1, William Hogg123, Simone Dahrouge1, Catherine Deri-Armstrong4, Grant Russell56, Monica Taljaard78, Ayub Akbari9 and George Wells108

Author Affiliations

1 C.T. Lamont Primary Health Care Research Centre, Bruyère Research Institute, Ottawa, ON, Canada

2 Department of Family Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada

3 Institute of Population Health, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada

4 Department of Economics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada

5 Southern Academic Primary Care Research Unit, Victoria, Australia

6 School of Primary Health Care, Monash University, Victoria, Australia

7 Clinical Epidemiology Program, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, ON, Canada

8 Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada

9 Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada

10 Cardiovascular Research Methods Centre, Ottawa Heart Institute, Ottawa, ON, Canada

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BMC Cardiovascular Disorders 2012, 12:74  doi:10.1186/1471-2261-12-74

Published: 12 September 2012



Primary care plays a key role in the prevention and management of cardiovascular disease (CVD). We examined primary care practice adherence to recommended care guidelines associated with the prevention and management of CVD for high risk patients.


We conducted a secondary analysis of cross-sectional baseline data collected from 84 primary care practices participating in a large quality improvement initiative in Eastern Ontario from 2008 to 2010. We collected medical chart data from 4,931 patients who either had, or were at high risk of developing CVD to study adherence rates to recommended guidelines for CVD care and to examine the proportion of patients at target for clinical markers such as blood pressure, lipid levels and hemoglobin A1c.


Adherence to preventive care recommendations was poor. Less than 10% of high risk patients received a waistline measurement, half of the smokers received cessation advice, and 7.7% were referred to a smoking cessation program. Gaps in care exist for diabetes and kidney disease as 54.9% of patients with diabetes received recommended hemoglobin-A1c screenings, and only 55.8% received an albumin excretion test. Adherence rates to recommended guidelines for coronary artery disease, hypertension, and dyslipidemia were high (>75%); however <50% of patients were at target for blood pressure or LDL-cholesterol levels (37.1% and 49.7% respectively), and only 59.3% of patients with diabetes were at target for hemoglobin-A1c.


There remain significant opportunities for primary care providers to engage high risk patients in prevention activities such as weight management and smoking cessation. Despite high adherence rates for hypertension, dyslipidemia, and coronary artery disease, a significant proportion of patients failed to meet treatment targets, highlighting the complexity of caring for people with multiple chronic conditions.

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Cardiovascular disease; Primary care; Diabetes; Evidence-based care; Preventive care; Quality of care