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Eur Heart J. 2006 Jan;27(2):193-200. Epub 2005 Nov 2.

What is the most cost-effective strategy to screen for left ventricular systolic dysfunction: natriuretic peptides, the electrocardiogram, hand-held echocardiography, traditional echocardiography, or their combination?

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Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Northwick Park Hospital, Watford Road, Harrow HA1 3UJ, Middlesex, UK.



To assess the screening characteristics and cost-effectiveness of screening for left ventricular systolic dysfunction (LVSD) in community subjects.


A total of 1392 members of the general public and 928 higher risk subjects were randomly selected from seven community practices. Attending subjects underwent an ECG, N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NTproBNP) serum levels, and traditional echocardiography (TE). A total of 533 consecutive subjects underwent hand-held echocardiography (HE). The screening characteristics and cost-effectiveness (cost per case of LVSD diagnosed) of eight strategies to predict LVSD (LVSD <45% on TE) were compared. A total of 1205 subjects attended. Ninety six per cent of subjects with LVSD in the general population had identifiable risk factors. All screening strategies gave excellent negative predictive value. Screening high-risk subjects was most cost-effective, screening low-risk subjects least cost-effective. TE screening was the least cost-effective strategy. NTproBNP screening gave similar cost savings to ECG screening; HE screening greater cost-savings, and HE screening following NTproBNP or ECG pre-screening the greatest cost-savings, costing approximately 650 Euros per case of LVSD diagnosed in high-risk subjects (63% cost-savings vs.TE).


Thus several different modalities allow cost-effective community-based screening for LVSD, especially in high-risk subjects. Such programmes would be cost-effective and miss few cases of LVSD in the community.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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