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HSD). The years from the first acute MI were also determined. RESULTS: 3588 subjects with
MI diagnosis were identified (2698 males and 888 females, for 2 gender not recorded).
Based on the distribution of our population and on that reported by the Italian Institute of
Statistics, stratified by gender and age (segments of 10 years), the estimated number of
subjects with MI in Italy (age-standardized rates x 10000) was 309284 for men and 102343
for women. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of MI diagnosis in the HSD is very close to that
obtained by other epidemiological methods. Querying the database can provide a simple
and inexpensive way to estimate and monitor the prevalence of MI in Italy.
29. Balestrieri M, Marcon G, Samani F, Marini M, Sessa E, Gelatti U, Donato F. Mental disor-
ders associated with benzodiazepine use among older primary care attenders. A
regional survey.
Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2005;40:308-15.
ABSTRACT. BACKGROUND: Benzodiazepines (BDZs) are among the most commonly pre-
scribed drugs in the elderly and their use is often too prolonged according to current inter-
national guidelines. METHODS: We investigated the pattern of use of BDZs among 65- to
84-year-old attenders at 40 Italian primary care practices who answered positively in a
questionnaire on the use of anxiolytic/hypnotic drugs and successfully completed the PRI-
ME-MD questionnaire. The survey lasted 6 months, from February to July 2001. RESULTS:
Of the 1,156 subjects who completed the PRIME-MD, 748 subjects were positive for at
least one psychiatric diagnosis. A depressive disorder was present in 36.5% of all PRIME-
MD completers and in about one-third of cases represented by major depression, whereas
anxiety disorders, somatoform disorders and alcohol abuse accounted for 18.2%, 8.1%
and 1.7% of all PRIME-MD completers, respectively. Most patients were first prescribed
BDZs by their General Practitioners (GPs) for each diagnostic group. However, patients
with pure anxiety started BDZ treatment during hospitalisation more often (19.7%) than
patients with depressive disorders (13.7 %). Moreover, patients with comorbid anxiety
and depressive disorders (CADD) were most likely to receive their first BDZ prescription
from a psychiatrist (15.7 %). Sleep disturbances were present in at least 50% of cases
(and up to 86 %) in each diagnostic group. About 75% of prescriptions concerned anxio-
lytic BDZ or medium/long-acting BDZ. Most patients with anxiety, CADD and depression
used night-time BDZ (65.2%, 56.9 % and 60.5%, respectively). The prevalence of chronic
use of BDZs was equally high in all categories of psychiatric disorder (about 90 % for
each), showing that the vast majority of patients, irrespective of the diagnosis, had been
using BDZs for years. CONCLUSIONS: BDZs are widely prescribed for elderly people by
their GPs, often for a considerable length of time. The evidence that many BDZ consumers
suffer from a depressive or an anxiety disorder, or both, could be a starting point for en-
couraging a rational prescription in accordance with international guidelines.
30. Filippi A, Tragni E, Bignamini AA, Sessa E, Merlini G, Brignoli O, Mazzaglia G, Catapano A,
Cholesterol control in Stroke prevention in Italy: a cross-sectional study in family
Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2005; 12:159-163.
ABSTRACT. BACKGROUND: Stroke represents worldwide the second and seventh cause
of death and invalidity, respectively. Patients with ischaemic stroke or transitory ischaemic
attack (TIA) are at high risk of recurrence, therefore requiring intensive treatment. Hyper-
cholesterolaemia is a modifiable risk factor for stroke. The general practitioners attitude
towards detection and treatment of dyslipidaemia among patients with stroke or TIA
in Italy is unknown; we therefore aimed to address this issue taking advantage of the
database of The Italian College of General Practitioners. METHODS: Prevalence of the
monitored factors (lipid levels, statin prescription, and lipid level control with hypolipida-
emic agents prescription) were analysed on a patient population of 465 061. RESULTS:
A total of 2555 (49% women and 51% men) patients with a diagnosis of stroke and