ESC Heart Fail. 2023 Sep 11. doi: 10.1002/ehf2.14471. Online ahead of print.
AIMS: When relying on clinical assessment alone, an estimated 22% of acute heart failure (AHF) patients are missed, so clinical guidelines recommend the use of N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) for AHF diagnosis. Since publication of these guidelines, there has been poor uptake of NT-proBNP testing in part due to concerns over excessive false positive referrals resulting from the low specificity of a single 'rule-out' threshold of <300 pg/mL. Low specificity can be mitigated by the addition of age-specific 'rule-in' NT-proBNP thresholds.
METHODS AND RESULTS: A theoretical hybrid decision tree/semi-Markov model was developed, combining global trial and audit data to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of NT-proBNP testing using age-specific rule-in/rule-out (RI/RO) thresholds, compared with NT-proBNP RO only and with clinical decision alone (CDA). Cost-effectiveness was measured as the incremental cost per quality-adjusted life year (QALY) gained and incremental net health benefit. In the base case, using UK-specific inputs, NT-proBNP RI/RO was associated with both greater QALYs and lower costs than CDA. At a willingness-to-pay threshold of £20 000/QALY, NT-proBNP RO was also cost-effective compared with CDA [incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of £8322/QALY], but not cost-effective vs. RI/RO (ICER of £64 518/QALY). Overall, NT-proBNP RI/RO was the most cost-effective strategy. Sensitivity and scenario analyses were undertaken; the conclusions were not impacted by plausible variations in parameters, and similar conclusions were obtained for the Netherlands and Spain.
CONCLUSIONS: An NT-proBNP strategy that combines an RO threshold with age-specific RI thresholds provides a cost-effective alternative to the currently recommended NT-proBNP RO only strategy, achieving greater diagnostic specificity with minimal reduction in sensitivity and thus reducing unnecessary echocardiograms and hospital admissions.