We describe a 'one-stop' cholesterol clinic implementing a regime based on the Scandinavian Simvastatin Survival Study (4S) in patients with established coronary heart disease in a district general hospital. The clinic has been established in collaboration with the cardiac rehabilitation centre. It was commissioned as an audit project by the purchasing authority, Walsall Health, a need having been shown in a previous audit. In the new clinic, audit is inbuilt, rather than being carried out as a separate retrospective exercise, and undertaken prospectively for all patients. Central to this is a database, used for routine correspondence and administration, as well as monitoring outcome. This application of information technology has improved clinical practice. Attendance at the clinic has been excellent. Half the consultations have resulted in therapeutic interventions, many of which may otherwise have been missed. Over 50% of patients were eligible for lipid-lowering medication under the protocol. Cholesterol targets based on 4S were achieved but with much lower drug doses, which may have major cost implications. Cholesterol levels measured within 24 hours of admission for myocardial infarction were poor predictors of results obtained after convalescence. After the clinic visit, most patients were taking aspirin plus one or two other secondary prevention treatments. Guidelines have been issued to primary care. Future plans for audit links with general practitioners, integration of the metabolic and cardiological assessment of survivors of myocardial infarction, and for long-term monitoring of clinical events in treated patients are discussed.
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