Beta-blockers save 7,800

Adding beta-blocker use to the quality framework could prevent 7,800 deaths from heart failure and reduce hospital admissions by nearly 10,000 annually, UK research findings suggest.

Although NICE guidance recommends beta-blockers for patients with heart failure to reduce mortality and hospitalisation, the quality framework does not incentivise GPs to prescribe them.

Up to 20 quality framework points are available for a register of heart failure patients, confirming diagnosis by ECG and prescribing ACE inhibitors or angiotensin II receptor blockers.

For the latest study, information on 437,379 heart failure patients aged 50 and over from 152 practices was analysed to determine treatment method.

This showed that between 2000 and 2005, the use of beta-blockers increased in all patients with heart failure. Use in men went from 6 per cent to 27 percent, and in women from 4 to 22 per cent.

However, this still fell short of the researchers' target of 70 per cent, delegates were told at the 36th annual conference for the Society for Academic Primary Care, held in London last week.

Lead researcher Dr Sunil Shah, from the department of community health services at St George's, University of London, said: 'Achieving 70 per cent prescribing for beta-blockers has the potential to prevent 7,800 additional deaths and 9,750 hospital admissions for heart failure.

'Beta-blocker use should be included in the next revision of the quality framework as an indicator for heart failure.'

This would accelerate uptake of this effective intervention and reduce inequities, he said.

REDUCING HOSPITAL ADMISSIONS

9,750 admissions would be cut by prescribing incentives for beta-blockers

Source: SAPC.

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