Pictorial presentation of subclinical atherosclerosis : a measure to reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease

Sammanfattning: The overall aim was improved cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention through the VIPVIZA intervention. This includes the provision of pictorial information of subclinical atherosclerosis to participants and their general practitioners (GPs), follow-up phone call, and written information to the participant. VIPVIZA is a Prospective Randomized Open Blinded End-point (PROBE) trial nested within VIP, a CVD prevention program in primary health care in Västerbotten county, Sweden. Middle-aged individuals at low/intermediate CVD risk were enrolled to VIPVIZA and randomized 1:1 to an intervention (n=1749) or control group (n=1783 who received no pictorial or other information). Preventive measures were managed within primary health care.At baseline, clinical risk factors were measured and carotid ultrasound examination was performed. The prevalence of subclinical atherosclerotic disease was assessed as intima media thickness and presence of plaque. The association between clinical risk factors and measures of subclinical atherosclerosis was investigated. In addition to conventional risk factor-based risk evaluation, the impact of the VIPVIZA intervention on CVD risk, traditional risk factors and pharmacological treatment was evaluated after 1 and 3 years. Individual interviews were conducted with 15 GPs to explore how a pictorial representation of subclinical atherosclerosis affects physicians in their perception and communication of CVD risk. The interviews were analyzed by qualitative content analysis.The plaque prevalence was 44.7% in this population. Clinical risk factors explained more of the variation in a combined ultrasound measurement than single measurements. The results up to three years showed a VIPVIZA intervention effect, with lower and sustained CVD risk in the intervention as compared to the control group. The effect was partly mediated by differences in intake of lipid-lowering medication and partly by lifestyle behaviour. The GPs described their risk assessment and patients’ risk perception as more accurate with the VIPVIZA intervention. Informing patients about examination results prior to a consultation can facilitate shared decision-making and enhance adherence to preventive measures.The results show that the VIPVIZA intervention reduces CVD risk over three years. In the long run this has the potential to reduce the incidence of CVD events.