‘Save lives’ by adding beta-blockers to framework

Adding beta-blocker use to the quality framework has the potential to prevent 7,800 additional deaths from heart failure and reduce hospital admissions by nearly 10,000, UK research suggests.

Although NICE guidance recommends the use of beta-blockers to reduce mortality and hospitalisation in all patients with heart failure, the quality framework does not include beta-blocker treatment.

For the study, presented at the 36th annual conference for the Society of Academic Primary Care in West London last week, the researchers examined beta-blocker therapy in heart failure using a primary care database.

This included data on 437,379 patients, aged 50 and over, from 152 practices.

Actively managed heart failure was defined as a diagnosis of heart failure with two prescriptions for an ACE inhibitor in the calendar year.

The main outcome of the study was the prescription of a recommended beta-blocker.

The use of beta-blockers rose from 6.1 per cent to 27 per cent in men and from 4.2 per cent to 22 per cent in women between 2000 and 2005.

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 into the next revision of the quality framework as a indicator for heart failure.’

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

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