Arginine vasopressin (AVP) levels are elevated in proportion to heart failure (HF) severity and are associated with higher cardiovascular mortality in ambulatory patients. However, the relationship between baseline and trends in AVP with outcomes in patients hospitalized for worsening HF with reduced ejection fraction (EF) is unclear.
Methods and Results
The EVEREST (Efficacy of Vasopressin Antagonism in Heart Failure Outcome Study with Tolvaptan) trial investigated the effects of tolvaptan in patients with worsening HF and EF≤40%. The present analysis examined baseline and follow-up AVP levels in 3,196 EVEREST patients with valid AVP measurements. Co-primary endpoints included all-cause mortality (ACM), and the composite of cardiovascular mortality or HF hospitalization (CVM/H). Median follow-up was 9.9 months. Times to events were compared with univariate log-rank tests and multivariable Cox regression models, adjusted for baseline risk factors. After adjusting for baseline covariates, elevated AVP levels were associated with increased ACM (hazard ratio [HR] 1.33, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.13 –1.55) and CVM/H (HR 1.23, 95% CI 1.08 –1.39). There was no interaction of baseline AVP with treatment assignment in terms of survival (p=0.515). Tolvaptan therapy increased the proportion of patients with elevated AVP (p<0.001), but this had no effect on mortality (HR 0.95, 95% CI 0.72 – 1.24).
Elevated baseline AVP level was independently predictive of mortality, but did not identify a group of patients who had improved outcomes with tolvaptan treatment. Tolvaptan treatment increased AVP levels during follow-up, but this incremental increase was not associated with worsened outcomes.
heart failure; drugs; hormones; outcomes
Person-centred care (PCC) emphasizes a partnership in care between patients and healthcare professionals and is advocated by WHO as a key component of quality health care. We evaluated outcomes of PCC in hospitalized patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) with respect to the length of hospital stay (LOS), activities of daily living (ADL), health-related quality of life (HRQL) and 6-month readmission rate.
Methods and results
During 2008–2010, 248 consecutive patients hospitalized for symptoms of worsening CHF were enrolled in a controlled before and after designed study. A Usual care group (n= 123) was recruited according to pre-defined criteria to map usual CHF care and assess outcomes at five designated hospital wards. Based on the mapping, a panel of in-house clinicians and researchers developed measures aimed at aligning usual care with basic PCC principles. These measures were incorporated into a study protocol to guide care procedures at the same five wards. Person-centred care was then implemented at these wards and evaluated in 125 patients. Both length of hospital stay and 6-month readmission were extracted from patient records. Activities of daily living were evaluated at baseline and discharge and HRQL was evaluated at baseline and after 3 months. In the analysis of all patients, the LOS was reduced by 1 day (P= 0.16) while retaining ADL (P= 0.07). When PCC was fully implemented (per protocol analysis), LOS was reduced by 2.5 days (P= 0.01) and the ADL-level better preserved (P= 0.04). Health-related quality of life and time-to-first readmission did not differ.
In this proof-of-concept study, our findings suggest that a fully implemented PCC approach shortens hospital stay and maintains functional performance in patients hospitalized for worsening CHF, without increasing risk for readmission or jeopardizing patients' HRQL.
Patient-centred care; Chronic heart failure; Disease management programmes; Person-centered medicine; Person-centered care
Although the focus of therapeutic intervention has been on neurohormonal pathways thought to be harmful in heart failure (HF), such as the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system (RAAS), potentially beneficial counter-regulatory systems are also active in HF. These promote vasodilatation and natriuresis, inhibit abnormal growth, suppress the RAAS and sympathetic nervous system, and augment parasympathetic activity. The best understood of these mediators are the natriuretic peptides which are metabolized by the enzyme neprilysin. LCZ696 belongs to a new class of drugs, the angiotensin receptor neprilysin inhibitors (ARNIs), which both block the RAAS and augment natriuretic peptides.
Patients with chronic HF, NYHA class II–IV symptoms, an elevated plasma BNP or NT-proBNP level, and an LVEF of ≤40% were enrolled in the Prospective comparison of ARNI with ACEI to Determine Impact on Global Mortailty and morbidity in Heart Failure trial (PARADIGM-HF). Patients entered a single-blind enalapril run-in period (titrated to 10 mg b.i.d.), followed by an LCZ696 run-in period (100 mg titrated to 200 mg b.i.d.). A total of 8436 patients tolerating both periods were randomized 1:1 to either enalapril 10 mg b.i.d. or LCZ696 200 mg b.i.d. The primary outcome is the composite of cardiovascular death or HF hospitalization, although the trial is powered to detect a 15% relative risk reduction in cardiovascular death.
PARADIGM-HF will determine the place of the ARNI LCZ696 as an alternative to enalapril in patients with systolic HF. PARADIGM-HF may change our approach to neurohormonal modulation in HF.
Chronic heart failure; Renin–angiotensin; ACE inhibitor; Angiotensin receptor blocker; Natriuretic peptides; Neprilysin; Neutral endopeptidase; Angiotensin receptor neprilysin inhibitor; LCZ696
This report describes the baseline characteristics of patients in the Reduction of Events with Darbepoetin alfa in Heart Failure trial (RED-HF) which is testing the hypothesis that anaemia correction with darbepoetin alfa will reduce the composite endpoint of death from any cause or hospital admission for worsening heart failure, and improve other outcomes.
Methods and results
Key demographic, clinical, and laboratory findings, along with baseline treatment, are reported and compared with those of patients in other recent clinical trials in heart failure. Compared with other recent trials, RED-HF enrolled more elderly [mean age 70 (SD 11.4) years], female (41%), and black (9%) patients. RED-HF patients more often had diabetes (46%) and renal impairment (72% had an estimated glomerular filtration rate <60 mL/min/1.73 m2). Patients in RED-HF had heart failure of longer duration [5.3 (5.4) years], worse NYHA class (35% II, 63% III, and 2% IV), and more signs of congestion. Mean EF was 30% (6.8%). RED-HF patients were well treated at randomization, and pharmacological therapy at baseline was broadly similar to that of other recent trials, taking account of study-specific inclusion/exclusion criteria. Median (interquartile range) haemoglobin at baseline was 112 (106–117) g/L.
The anaemic patients enrolled in RED-HF were older, moderately to markedly symptomatic, and had extensive co-morbidity.
Heart failure; Anaemia
We explored the effect of treatment with ivabradine, a pure heart rate-slowing agent, on recurrent hospitalizations for worsening heart failure (HF) in the SHIFT trial.
Methods and results
SHIFT was a double-blind clinical trial in which 6505 patients with moderate-to-severe HF and left ventricular systolic dysfunction, all of whom had been hospitalized for HF during the preceding year, were randomized to ivabradine or to placebo on a background of guideline-recommended HF therapy (including maximized β-blockade). In total, 1186 patients experienced at least one additional HF hospitalization during the study, 472 suffered at least two, and 218 suffered at least 3. Patients with additional HF hospitalizations had more severe disease than those without. Ivabradine was associated with fewer total HF hospitalizations [902 vs. 1211 events with placebo; incidence rate ratio, 0.75, 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.65–0.87, P = 0.0002] during the 22.9-month median follow-up. Ivabradine-treated patients evidenced lower risk for a second or third additional HF hospitalization [hazard ratio (HR): 0.66, 95% CI, 0.55–0.79, P < 0.001 and HR: 0.71, 95% CI, 0.54–0.93, P = 0.012, respectively]. Similar observations were made for all-cause and cardiovascular hospitalizations.
Treatment with ivabradine, on a background of guidelines-based HF therapy, is associated with a substantial reduction in the likelihood of recurrent hospitalizations for worsening HF. This benefit can be expected to improve the quality of life and to substantially reduce health-care costs.
Heart failure; Hospitalization; Ivabradine; Left ventricular systolic dysfunction; Heart rate
Standardized patient surveys are widely used for assessing quality of healthcare from the patient perspective. An important purpose of such surveys is to identify disparities in care among different patient groups. The purpose of this study was to 1.) evaluate aspects of the validity of the adapted Swedish version of the Picker Patient Care Experience -15 (PPE-15) survey and 2.) examine the explanatory value of various socio-demographic and health characteristics in predicting patients’ care experiences.
A retrospective cross-sectional study design was used. Patients discharged from internal medicine wards at regional and university hospitals in different parts of Sweden during 2010 were invited to participate in the regularly administered national care-experience survey for hospital care. The internal validity of the PPE-15 was assessed with Cronbach’s alpha and item-scale correlations. Pearson product–moment correlation coefficients were used to compare PPE-15 total scores with overall care satisfaction ratings and Spearman correlation coefficients were used to compare PPE-15 total scores with various patient characteristics. Multiple linear regression analysis was performed to examine the influence of various patient characteristics on PPE-15 scores.
The response rate was 66% (n = 34 603). Cronbach’s alpha was 0.87. The correlation between the PPE-15 total score and overall care satisfaction was high (0.62, p < 0.0001). Good self-rated health (SRH) and having Swedish as native language were associated with better care experiences and poorer experiences with greater healthcare utilization, higher age, functional impairment and being female. All examined characteristics, except language, were significant predictors in the regression model and SRH was the strongest predictor; however, the model explained only 7% of the total variance. Vulnerable patients (i.e. poor SRH and functional impairment) reported significantly less positive care experiences than did non-vulnerable patients (mean PPE-15 score 75 vs 85; p < 0.0001).
Our results supported the internal validity of the Swedish adapted version of the PPE-15. The explanatory value of the examined patient socio-demographic and health characteristics was low, suggesting the need for exploring other patient-related determinants of care experiences. Our findings also suggest a care paradox: patients in greatest need of hospital care are least satisfied with the quality of the care they receive.
Patient-reported outcome; Self-rated health; Functional status; Frail; Care experience; Care disparity; Patient-centred care
Chronic heart failure (CHF) is a major public health problem characterised by progressive deterioration with disabling symptoms and frequent hospital admissions. To influence hospitalisation rates it is crucial to identify precipitating factors.
To characterise patients with CHF who seek an emergency department (ED) because of worsening symptoms and signs and to explore the reasons why they are admitted to hospital.
Patients (n = 2,648) seeking care for dyspnoea were identified at the ED, Sahlgrenska University Hospital/Östra. Out of 2,648 patients, 1,127 had a previous diagnosis of CHF, and of these, 786 were included in the present study with at least one sign and one symptom of worsening CHF.
Although several of the patients wanted to go home after acute treatment in the ED, only 2% could be sent home. These patients were enrolled in an interventional study, which evaluated the acute care at home compared to the conventional, in hospital care. The remaining patients were admitted to hospital because of serious condition, including pneumonia/respiratory disease, myocardial infarction, pulmonary oedema, anaemia, the need to monitor cardiac rhythm, pathological blood chemistry and difficulties to communicate.
The vast majority of patients with worsening CHF seeking the ED required hospital care, predominantly because of co-morbidities. Patients with CHF with symptomatic deterioration may be admitted to hospital without additional emergency room investigations.
Chronic heart failure; Hospitalisation; Deterioration; Emergency care
The SHIFT echocardiographic substudy evaluated the effects of ivabradine on left ventricular (LV) remodelling in heart failure (HF).
Methods and results
Eligible patients had chronic HF and systolic dysfunction [LV ejection fraction (LVEF) ≤35%], were in sinus rhythm, and had resting heart rate ≥70 bpm. Patients were randomly allocated to ivabradine or placebo, superimposed on background therapy for HF. Complete echocardiographic data at baseline and 8 months were available for 411 patients (ivabradine 208, placebo 203). Treatment with ivabradine reduced LVESVI (primary substudy endpoint) vs. placebo [−7.0 ± 16.3 vs. −0.9 ± 17.1 mL/m2; difference (SE), −5.8 (1.6), 95% CI −8.8 to −2.7, P< 0.001]. The reduction in LVESVI was independent of beta-blocker use, HF aetiology, and baseline LVEF. Ivabradine also improved LV end-diastolic volume index (−7.9 ± 18.9 vs. −1.8 ± 19.0 mL/m2, P= 0.002) and LVEF (+2.4 ± 7.7 vs. −0.1 ± 8.0%, P< 0.001). The incidence of the SHIFT primary composite outcome (cardiovascular mortality or hospitalization for worsening HF) was higher in patients with LVESVI above the median (59 mL/m2) at baseline (HR 1.62, 95% CI 1.03–2.56, P= 0.04). Patients with the largest relative reductions in LVESVI had the lowest event rates.
Ivabradine reverses cardiac remodelling in patients with HF and LV systolic dysfunction.
Heart failure; Heart rate; Ventricular remodelling; Systolic dysfunction; Ivabradine
Hospitalized heart failure (HF) patients are at high risk for death and readmission. We examined the incremental value of data obtained 1 week after HF hospital discharge in predicting mortality and readmission.
Methods and results
In the Efficacy of Vasopressin Antagonism in Heart Failure Outcome Study with tolvaptan, 1528 hospitalized patients (ejection fraction ≤40%) with a physical examination, laboratories, and health status [Kansas City Cardiomyopathy Questionnaire (KCCQ)] assessments 1 week after discharge were included. The ability to predict 1 year cardiovascular rehospitalization and mortality was assessed with Cox models, c-statistics, and the integrated discrimination improvement (IDI). Not using a beta-blocker, rales, pedal oedema, hyponatraemia, lower creatinine clearance, higher brain natriuretic peptide, and worse health status were independent risk factors for rehospitalization and death. The c-statistic for the base model (history and medications) was 0.657. The model improved with physical examination, laboratory, and KCCQ results, with IDI increases of 4.9, 7.0, and 3.2%, respectively (P < 0.001 each). The combination of all three offered the greatest incremental gain (c-statistic 0.749; IDI increase 10.8%).
Physical examination, laboratories, and KCCQ assessed 1 week after discharge offer important prognostic information, suggesting that all are critical components of outpatient evaluation after HF hospitalization.
Heart failure; Prognosis; Health status; Hospitalization; Mortality; BNP
To describe the effects of tolvaptan therapy on dyspnoea relief based on timing of delivery, influence of concomitant therapies, and baseline patient and clinical characteristics. Also, the influence of clinical trial design on dyspnoea measurement, from the Efficacy of Vasopressin Antagonism in Heart Failure Outcome Study with Tolvaptan (EVEREST) trials.
Methods and results
Post hoc analysis was performed based on the endpoint of patient-assessed dyspnoea. Changes from baseline at inpatient Day 1 were compared between treatment groups by the van Elteren test. Pre-determined subgroup analyses were also performed. Tolvaptan's effects are greatest within 12 h after first dose with an additional, but modest dyspnoea improvement benefit irrespective of time after admission. Overall, patients continue to report dyspnoea improvement up to 60 h after admission. The window of enrolment, up to 48 h after admission, combined with measurement on ‘Day 1’ led to a wide range over when dyspnoea was assessed.
Post hoc analysis suggests that tolvaptan modestly improves dyspnoea compared with standard therapy alone, regardless if given early or relatively late after hospitalization, and also across major pre-specified subgroups, despite ongoing background therapy aimed at relieving signs and symptoms. Significant variability around when dyspnoea was assessed, in addition to the persistence of dyspnoea despite ongoing background therapy, may influence how future clinical trials assess dyspnoea in acute heart failure syndromes.
Acute heart failure syndromes; Heart failure; Dyspnoea; Vasopressin antagonists; Clinical trials
β Blocker treatment may worsen glucose metabolism.
To study the development of new onset diabetes in a large cohort of patients with heart failure treated with either metoprolol or carvedilol.
Prospective and retrospective analysis of a controlled clinical trial.
Multinational multicentre study.
3029 patients with chronic heart failure.
Randomly assigned treatment with carvedilol (n = 1511, target dose 50 mg daily) or metoprolol tartrate (n = 1518, target dose 100 mg daily).
Diabetic events (diabetic coma, peripheral gangrene, diabetic foot, decreased glucose tolerance or hyperglycaemia) and new onset diabetes (clinical diagnosis, repeated high random glucose level or glucose lowering drugs) were assessed in 2298 patients without diabetes at baseline. Diabetic events occurred in 122/1151 (10.6%) patients in the carvedilol group and 149/1147 (13.0%) patients in the metoprolol group (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.78; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.61 to 0.99; p = 0.039). New onset diabetes was diagnosed in 119/1151 (10.3%) v 145/1147 (12.6%) cases in the carvedilol and metoprolol treatment groups (HR = 0.78, CI 0.61 to 0.997; p = 0.048), respectively. Patients with diabetes at baseline had an increased mortality compared with non‐diabetic subjects (45.3% v 33.9%; HR = 1.45, CI 1.28 to 1.65). Both diabetic and non‐diabetic subjects at baseline had a similar reduction in mortality with carvedilol compared with metoprolol (RR = 0.85; CI 0.69 to 1.06 and RR = 0.82; CI 0.71 to 0.94, respectively).
A high prevalence and incidence of diabetes is found in patients with heart failure over a course of 5 years. New onset diabetes is more likely to occur during treatment with metoprolol than during treatment with carvedilol.
β adrenergic receptor antagonists; carvedilol; diabetes mellitus; heart failure; metoprolol
The purpose of this study was to identify predictors of incident diabetes during follow-up of nondiabetic patients with chronic heart failure (CHF) in the Candesartan in Heart Failure Assessment of Reduction in Mortality and Morbidity (CHARM) program.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
A total of 1,620 nondiabetic patients had full baseline datasets. We compared baseline demographic, medication, and laboratory data for patients who did or did not develop diabetes and conducted logistic regression and receiver operator characteristic curve analyses.
Over a median period of 2.8 years, 126 of the 1,620 patients (7.8%) developed diabetes. In multiple logistic regression analysis, the following baseline characteristics were independently associated with incident diabetes in decreasing order of significance by stepwise selection: higher A1C (odds ratio [OR] 1.78 per 1 SD increase; P < 0.0001), higher BMI (OR 1.64 per 1 SD increase; P < 0.0001), lipid-lowering therapy (OR 2.05; P = 0.0005), lower serum creatinine concentration (OR 0.68 per 1 SD increase; P = 0.0018), diuretic therapy (OR 4.81; P = 0.003), digoxin therapy (OR 1.65; P = 0.022), higher serum alanine aminotransferase concentration (OR 1.15 per 1 SD increase; P = 0.027), and lower age (OR 0.81 per 1 SD increase; P = 0.048). Using receiver operating characteristic curve analysis, A1C and BMI yielded areas under the curve of 0.723 and 0.712, respectively, increasing to 0.788 when combined. Addition of other variables independently associated with diabetes risk minimally improved prediction of diabetes.
In nondiabetic patients with CHF in CHARM, A1C and BMI were the strongest predictors of the development of diabetes. Other minor predictors in part reflected CHF severity or drug-associated diabetes risk. Identifying patients with CHF at risk of diabetes through simple criteria appears possible and could enable targeted preventative measures.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is an independent predictor of mortality in patients with myocardial infarction (MI). However, the impact on mode of death and risk of atherosclerotic events is unknown.
Methods and results
We assessed the risk of death and major cardiovascular (CV) events associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 14 703 patients with acute MI enrolled in the Valsartan in Acute Myocardial Infarction (VALIANT) trial. Cox proportional hazards models were used to evaluate the relationship between chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and CV outcomes. A total of 1258 (8.6%) patients had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Over a median follow-up period of 24.7 months, all-cause mortality was 30% in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, compared with 19% in those without. The adjusted hazard ratio (HR) for mortality was 1.14 (95% confidence interval 1.02–1.28). This reflected increased incidence of both non-CV death [HR 1.86 (1.43–2.42)] and sudden death [HR 1.26 (1.03–1.53)]. The unadjusted risk of all pre-specified CV outcomes was increased. However, after multivariate adjustment, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was not an independent predictor of atherosclerotic events [MI or stroke: HR 0.98 (0.77–1.23)]. Mortality was significantly lower in patients receiving beta-blockers, irrespective of airway disease.
In high-risk patients with acute MI, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is associated with increased mortality and non-fatal clinical events (both CV and non-CV). However, patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease did not experience a higher rate of atherosclerotic events.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; Heart failure; Left ventricular systolic dysfunction; Myocardial infarction
The prevalence and importance of liver function test (LFT) abnormalities in a large contemporary cohort of heart failure patients have not been systematically evaluated.
Methods and results
We characterized the LFTs of 2679 patients with symptomatic chronic heart failure from the Candesartan in Heart failure: Assessment of Reduction in Mortality and morbidity program (CHARM). We used multivariable modelling to assess the relationships between baseline LFT values and long-term outcomes. Liver function test abnormalities were common in patients with chronic heart failure, ranging from alanine aminotransferase elevation in 3.1% of patients to low albumin in 18.3% of patients; total bilirubin was elevated in 13.0% of patients. In multivariable analysis, elevated total bilirubin was the strongest LFT predictor of adverse outcome for both the composite outcome of cardiovascular death or heart failure hospitalization (HR 1.21 per 1 SD increase, P < 0.0001) and all-cause mortality (HR 1.19 per 1 SD increase, P < 0.0001). Even after adjustment for other variables, elevated total bilirubin was one of the strongest independent predictors of poor prognosis (by global chi-square).
Bilirubin is independently associated with morbidity and mortality. Changes in total bilirubin may offer insight into the underlying pathophysiology of chronic heart failure.
Heart failure; Bilirubin; Liver function tests; Hepatic congestion; Prognosis; Death; Laboratory tests
Use of inotropic agents in patients with heart failure (HF) has been limited by adverse effects on outcomes. However, administration of positive inotropes at lower doses and concomitant treatment with beta-blockers might increase benefit–risk ratio. We investigated the effects of low doses of the positive inotrope enoximone on symptoms, exercise capacity, and major clinical outcomes in patients with advanced HF who were also treated with beta-blockers and other guideline-recommended background therapy.
Methods and results
The Studies of Oral Enoximone Therapy in Advanced HF (ESSENTIAL) programme consisted of two identical, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials that differed only by geographic location (North and South America: ESSENTIAL-I; Europe: ESSENTIAL-II). Patients with New York Heart Association class III–IV HF symptoms, left ventricular ejection fraction ≤30%, and one hospitalization or two ambulatory visits for worsening HF in the previous year were eligible for participation in the trials. The trials had three co-primary endpoints: (i) the composite of time to all-cause mortality or cardiovascular hospitalization, analysed in the two ESSENTIAL trials combined; (ii) the 6 month change from baseline in the 6 min walk test distance (6MWTD); and (iii) the Patient Global Assessment (PGA) at 6 months, both analysed in each trial separately. ESSENTIAL-I and -II randomized 1854 subjects at 211 sites in 16 countries. In the combined trials, all-cause mortality and the composite, first co-primary endpoint did not differ between the two treatment groups [hazard ratio (HR) 0.97; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.80–1.17; and HR 0.98; 95% CI 0.86–1.12, respectively, for enoximone vs. placebo]. The two other co-primary endpoints were analysed separately in the two ESSENTIAL trials, as prospectively designed in the protocol. The 6MWTD increased with enoximone, compared with placebo, in ESSENTIAL-I (P = 0.025, not reaching, however, the pre-specified criterion for statistical significance of P < 0.020), but not in ESSENTIAL-II. No difference in PGA was observed in either trial.
Although low-dose enoximone appears to be safe in patients with advanced HF, major clinical outcomes are not improved.
Advanced heart failure; Inotropic agents; Enoximone
Worsening chronic heart failure (CHF) is largely characterised by disabling symptoms, poor quality of life, frequent hospital admissions and need of specialist care. Lack of alternative care results in involuntary hospitalisation.
In a pilot study evaluate home care (HC) versus conventional care (CC) in relation to medical safety, health-related quality of life (HRQL) and cost-utility in patients with worsening CHF.
Thirty-one patients with deteriorating CHF were randomised to HC or CC when seeking medical attention at hospital. Patients in the HC group were discharged from the hospital and were followed-up in their homes by a specialist nurse. Patients in the control group were treated in hospital with usual care. Follow-ups were conducted for both groups, 1, 4, 8 and 12 months after inclusion in the study. Health-related quality of life assessed by EuroQol-5D VAS, Standard Gamble technique, SF-36 and Kansas City cardiomyopathy Questionnaire. All health care related costs were assessed and cost utility analysis was performed to compare cost/QALYs between groups.
There was no significant difference in clinical events, adverse events or in HRQL. The total cost related to CHF was lower in the HC group after 12 months. Median direct health care related costs in HC were € 1122 and in CC € 5670 (p 0.05). Cost/QALYs ranged € 74–580 in HC compared to CC € 289–1013, calculated from each follow-up. The cost utility ratio was (CC/HC) 2.55 (SG) and 2.65 (VAS).
Reductions in cost of care for selected patients with CHF eligible for hospital care might be achieved by a very early discharge from hospital followed by home visits. More importantly, HC seems to be safe and no difference was found in HRQL between two groups. This pilot study provides clinicians with useful information in their decisions concerning CHF patient management, who are reluctant to hospitalisation.
chronic heart failure; healthcare cost; quality-adjusted life years; home care; cost-utility analysis; safety
Major international differences in heart failure treatment have been repeatedly described, but the reasons for these differences remain unclear. National guideline recommendations might be a relevant factor. This study, therefore, explored variation of heart failure guideline recommendations in Europe.
Treatment recommendations of 14 national guidelines published after 1994 were analyzed in relation to the heart failure treatment guideline of the European Society of Cardiology. To test potential relations between recommendations and prescribing, national prescribing patterns as obtained by a European study in primary care (IMPROVEMENT-HF) were related to selected recommendations in those countries.
Besides the 14 national guidelines used by primary care physicians in the countries contacted, the European guideline was used in four countries, and separate guidelines for specialists and primary care were available in another four countries. Two countries indicated that no guideline was used up to 2000. Comprehensiveness of the guidelines varied with respect to length, literature included and evidence ratings. Relevant differences in treatment recommendations were seen only in drug classes where evidence had changed recently (β-blockers and spironolactone). The relation between recommendation and prescribing for selected recommendations was inconsistent among countries.
Differences in guideline recommendations are not sufficient to explain variation of prescribing among countries, thus other factors must be considered.