Comparison of Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Outcomes Among Practicing Physicians vs the General Population in Ontario, Canada

Published: November 1, 2019
Category: Bibliography
Authors: Austin PC, Chu A, Frank E, Johnston S, Ko DT, Nallamothu BK, Roifman I, Tusevljak N, Udell JA
Countries: Canada
Language: English
Types: Care Management, Population Health
Settings: Hospital, PCP



Although cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in most developed countries, little is known about current physicians’ cardiovascular health and outcomes.


To compare cardiac risk factor burden, health services use, and major cardiovascular event incidence between physicians and the general population.


This cohort study used data from practicing physicians and nonphysicians without cardiovascular disease aged 40 to 75 years in Ontario, Canada. Cohorts were assembled beginning January 1, 2008, and were followed up to December 31, 2015. Data analysis was performed between November 2017 and September 2019.


Being a practicing physician.


The primary outcome was 8-year incidence of a major cardiovascular event (ie, cardiovascular death or hospitalization for myocardial infarction, stroke, heart failure, or coronary revascularization). Secondary outcomes included health services used, such as physician assessments and guideline-recommended tests.


The cohort comprised 17 071 physicians (mean [SD] age, 53.3 [8.8] years; 11 963 [70.1%] men) and 5 306 038 nonphysicians (mean [SD] age, 53.7 [9.5] years; 2 556 044 [48.2%] men). Physicians had significantly lower baseline rates of hypertension (16.9% vs 29.6%), diabetes (5.0% vs 11.3%), and smoking (13.1% vs 21.6%), while having better cholesterol profiles (total cholesterol levels >240 mg/dL, 13.3% vs 16.5%; low-density lipoprotein cholesterol >130 mg/dL, 33.2% vs 36.8%); age- and sex-adjusted differences were even larger. Physicians also had lower rates of periodic health examinations (58.9% [95% CI, 57.5%-60.4%] vs 67.9% [95% CI, 67.8%-67.9%]), hyperlipidemia screening (76.3% [95% CI, 74.7%-78.0%] vs 83.8% [95% CI, 83.7%-83.9%]), and diabetes screening (79.0% [95% CI, 77.3%-80.8%] vs 85.3% [95% CI, 85.2%-85.4%]), but higher rates of cardiologist consultations (25.2% [95% CI, 24.2%-26.3%] vs 19.5% [95% CI, 19.4%-19.5%]). The 8-year age- and sex-standardized primary outcome incidence was 4.4 major cardiovascular events per 1000 person-years for physicians and 7.1 major cardiovascular events per 1000 person-years for the general population. After adjusting for age, sex, socioeconomic status, and cardiac risks and comorbidities, physicians had a 22% lower hazard (hazard ratio, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.72-0.85) of experiencing the primary outcome compared with the general population.


Practicing physicians in Ontario had fewer cardiovascular risk factors, underwent less preventive testing, and were less likely to experience major adverse cardiovascular outcomes than the general population.

cardiovascular risk factors, hospitalization for myocardial infarction, stroke, heart failure, coronary revascularization

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