OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to assess cost-effectiveness of N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP)-guided versus symptom-guided therapy in heart failure (HF) patients ≥60 years old.
BACKGROUND: Cost-effectiveness of NT-proBNP guidance in HF patients is unclear. It may create additional costs with uncertain benefits.
METHODS: In the TIME-CHF (Trial of Intensified versus Standard Medical Therapy in Elderly Patients with Congestive Heart Failure), patients with left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) of ≤45% were randomized to receive intensified NT-proBNP-guided therapy or standard, symptom-guided therapy. For cost-effectiveness analysis, 467 (94%) patients (age 76 ± 7 years, 66% male) were eligible. Incremental cost-effectiveness was calculated as incremental costs per gained life-year and quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) within the 18-month trial period, as defined per protocol.
RESULTS: NT-proBNP-guided therapy was dominant (i.e., more effective and less costly) over symptom-guided therapy, saving $2,979 USD (2.5 to 97.5% confidence interval [CI]: $8,758 to $3,265) per patient, with incremental effectiveness of +0.07 life-years and +0.05 QALYs. The probability of NT-proBNP-guided therapy being dominant was 80%, and the probability of saving 1 life-year or QALY at a cost of $50,000 was 97% and 93%, respectively. Exclusion of residence costs resulted in an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of $5,870 per life-year gained. Cost-effectiveness of NT-proBNP-guided therapy was most pronounced in patients <75 years old and in those with <2 significant comorbidities, being dominant in all sensitivity analyses. In the worst-case scenario (excluding residence costs in those with ≥2 comorbidities), the ICER was $11,935 per life-year gained.
CONCLUSIONS: NT-proBNP-guided therapy has a high probability of being cost effective in HF patients with reduced LVEF, particularly in patients age 60 to 75 years or with less than 2 comorbidities. (Trial of Intensified versus standard Medical therapy in Elderly patients with Congestive Heart Failure [TIME-CHF]; ISRCTN43596477).