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Doctor's age 'influences treatment'

A doctor's age will influence decisions they make regarding the treatment of patients with heart disease, new research suggests.

A study in Italy found that patients are more likely to be prescribed cardiovascular (CV) drugs if they see a younger doctor, whereas older doctors are more likely to recommend a change in their lifestyle, such as quitting smoking or an increase in their exercise regime.

The research, published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice (IJCP), involved a study of the attitudes and prescribing trends of 1,078 GPs, cardiologists and diabetologists, together with clinical data on 9,904 of their outpatients.

Cardiologist Professor Massimo Volpe, from the Faculty of Medicine at Sapienza University, Rome, said prescribing more drugs did not result in significantly better control of major CV risk factors, "suggesting that other factors have an important role to play in the clinical management of CV risk, including lifestyle changes".

Among the key findings of the survey were that high blood pressure was the most common CV risk factor, affecting 75% of patients, followed by abnormal lipid in 59% of patients and diabetes mellitus in 37%. In each case, the percentage was highest in patients managed by doctors under 45.

Blood pressure drugs were the most commonly prescribed, by 83% of doctors under 45, 78% of doctors aged 46-55 and 80% of doctors over 55. However, younger doctors were also more likely to prescribe anti-diabetic drugs, lipid-lowering agents and anti-platelet agents.

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