Open Access Research article

Treatment of heart failure in Dutch general practice

Frans JM Bongers1*, François G Schellevis1, Carel Bakx2, Wil JHM van den Bosch2 and Jouke van der Zee1

Author Affiliations

1 NIVEL (Netherlands Institute of Health Services Research), P.O. Box 1568 3800 BN Utrecht, The Netherlands

2 Department of General Practice and Social Medicine, University Medical Centre St Radboud Nijmegen PO Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands

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BMC Family Practice 2006, 7:40  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-7-40

Published: 5 July 2006



To study the relation between the prescription rates of selected cardiovascular drugs (ACE-inhibitors and Angiotensin receptor blockers, beta-blockers, diuretics, and combinations), sociodemographic factors (age, gender and socioeconomic class) and concomitant diseases (hypertension, coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular accident, heart valve disease, atrial fibrillation, diabetes mellitus and asthma/COPD) among patients with heart failure cared for in general practice.


Data from the second Dutch National Survey in General Practice, conducted mainly in 2001. In this study the data of 96 practices with a registered patient population of 374.000 were used.

Data included diagnosis made during one year by general practitioners, derived from the electronic medical records, prescriptions for medication and sociodemographic characteristics collected via a postal questionnary (response 76%)


A diagnosis of HF was found with 2771 patients (7.1 in 1000). Their mean age was 77.7 years, 68% was 75 years or older, 55% of the patients were women. Overall prescription rates for RAAS-I, beta-blockers and diuretics were 50%, 32%, 86%, respectively, whereas a combination of these three drugs was prescribed in 18%. Variations in prescription rates were mainly related to age and concomitant diseases.


Prescription is not influenced by gender, to a small degree influenced by socioeconomic status and to a large degree by age and concomitant diseases.