More than 3,000 Irish patients are now benefitting from a new intervention which prevents heart failure and that could help to avoid more than 17,250 hospital admissions a year.
The intervention builds on the STOP-Heart Failure Trial, which showed a 45% reduction in new onset heart failure and a drop of 40% in the incidence of admissions for other major cardiovascular events, such as stroke and heart attack. The trial involving more than 1,350 Irish patients and 39 GP practices was conducted by researchers in University College Dublin (UCD) and funded by the Health Research Board (HRB).
In practice, this new approach uses a simple blood test to measure a protein called natriuretic peptide. Natriuretic peptide is released by the heart when it is under stress or strain. Participants with an elevated level of natriuretic peptide are given a heart ultrasound, lifestyle advice and given a collaborative care plan that was reviewed by both their GP and cardiologist.
According to HRB Clinician Scientist, Professor Ken McDonald, St Vincent’s University Hospital and UCD,
‘Heart failure affects over 90,000 people in Ireland and is one of the main reason reasons for visits to our Emergency Departments. Our study has shown that for every 1,000 patients enrolled, 8 hospitalisations for cardiovascular reasons are prevented every year. Approximately 1 million people in Ireland are STOP-HF candidates. On that basis – rolling out the STOP-HF method at a national level to all these people could prevent 17,250 hospital admissions per year, the equivalent of 138,000 bed days, and could generate the equivalent of 378 new hospital beds for the health system within five years’.
The STOP Heart Failure intervention is currently provided as a routine clinical service, supported by the Heartbeat Trust in St Michaels Dun Laoghaire and a limited number of general practices in the Midlands.
Dr Mairead O Driscoll, Interim Chief Executive at the Health Research Board said,
‘Research saves lives. This is a concrete example of how funding research can directly impact patient’s lives and approaches to health care. We should also take pride that Irish research is having an international influence on guidelines in North America as they adopt this new approach to care into their National Guidelines in the USA and Canada’.