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Led by The Heartbeat Trust, the STOP-HF study used a simple blood test called natriuretic peptide to help identify those most at risk of heart failure. Natriuretic peptide is a protein released by the heart when it is under stress or strain. The research involved 1,350 participants from 39 GP practices in Ireland.
Participants with an elevated level of natriuretic peptide were given a heart ultrasound, lifestyle advice and reviewed by both their GP and cardiologist. As well as reducing repeated heart failure and hospital admissions for patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease, the researchers found that this approach reduced new onset of heart failure and significant heart dysfunction by 45 per cent and led to a reduction in hospital admissions for other major cardiovascular episodes such as heart attack or stroke by 40 per cent.
The 2014 ‘Canadian Cardiovascular Society Heart Failure Management Guidelines Focus Update: Anaemia, Biomarkers, and Recent Therapeutic Trial Implications’ now suggests that in individuals with risk factors for the development of heart failure that natriuretic peptide levels be used to implement strategies to prevent heart failure. This is the first time that this approach has been recommended in international guidelines.
Commenting on the development Prof Ken McDonald, Medical Director of The Heartbeat Trust and Principal Investigator, said, “This demonstrates how innovative, world-class research is important to everyday care of patients and that it can be performed in Ireland.”
Dr Mark Ledwidge, Research Director of The Heartbeat Trust and Principal Investigator also commented, “This research importantly shows how personalised care to those most at risk can lead to better outcomes and allows the development of sustainable healthcare systems.”
The STOP-HF study has received international recognition including presentation as a late breaking clinical trial at a American College of Cardiology conference, publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association, one of the world’s leading medical journals, and received the prestigious Royal College of General Practitioners Paper of the Year Award in 2014.