Article Text

Download PDFPDF

Does specialist review for patients with suspected heart failure predict better outcomes? An observational study on the utility of compliance with NICE guidelines
  1. Geraint Morton,
  2. Legate Philip,
  3. Thomas Gilpin,
  4. Pik Ee Chan,
  5. Kaushik Guha,
  6. Paul R Kalra
  1. Department of Cardiology, Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, Portsmouth, Wessex, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Geraint Morton; geraintmorton{at}


Objectives Compare outcomes in patients with suspected heart failure (HF) and raised natriuretic peptides who are reviewed in a specialist HF clinic in line with National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines (compliant group) versus patients who are not reviewed in the clinic (non-compliant group).

Design Retrospective observational study.

Setting Single large UK district general hospital.

Participants 567 consecutive patients in primary care with raised N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-pro-BNP) levels (>400 pg/mL) from February to September 2014.

Interventions 161 (28%) patients were referred to the specialist HF clinic and 406 (72%) were not. Outcomes were compared between the two groups.

Outcome measures All-cause and cardiovascular (CV) hospitalisations and all-cause mortality.

Results The compliant group were slightly younger than the non-compliant group (78±9 vs 80±9; p=0.019) but had much higher NT-pro-BNP (3108±4526 vs 2271±3637 pg/mL; p<0.0001). Despite this, over a mean follow-up period of 9±2 months, rates of all-cause hospitalisation (24% vs 44%; p<0.0001) and CV hospitalisation (3% vs 15%, p<0.0001) were significantly lower in the compliant group versus the non-compliant group, respectively. There was no significant difference in mortality rates (6% compliant group vs 8% non-compliant group; p=0.487).

Conclusions Hospitalisation rates in patients with suspected HF and raised NT-pro-BNP were extremely high over a relatively short follow-up period. Patients reviewed in a specialist HF clinic had much higher NT-pro-BNP levels, suggesting they were at higher risk of adverse outcomes, yet also had significantly lower rates of all-cause and CV hospitalisation. Our findings support implementation of the relevant NICE guidelines for patients with suspected HF.

  • heart failure
  • adult cardiology

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

View Full Text

Statistics from


  • Contributors GM defined the methods, acquired, analysed and interpreted the data and drafted the manuscript. LP acquired and analysed the data and drafted the manuscript. TG, PC and KG helped acquire and analyse the data and critically revised the manuscript. PRK defined the methods, acquired and interpreted data and critically revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Ethics approval Formal ethical approval was not required, however, the study was registered with the Trust’s Clinical Effectiveness Department.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement No additional data are available.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.