Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 

NZ Trial Shows Value of New Heart Failure Test

21 October 2002

MEDIA RELEASE

New Zealand Community Trial Shows Value of New Heart Failure Test

A new blood test that indicates if a patient with shortness-of-breath has heart failure has been shown to significantly improve accurate diagnosis of the condition by general practitioners.

That's the conclusion of University of Auckland Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences researcher Sue Wright and a team that investigated the benefits of using the blood test - for a substance called brain natriuretic peptide or BNP - in a primary care setting.

Heightened levels of BNP have been shown by the Christchurch Cardio-Endocrine Research Group, led by Professor Mark Richards, to indicate heart failure.

"Professor Richard's groundbreaking work has led to the development of the BNP test, which has since been trialled in hospital settings," said Dr Wright.

"But the use of BNP for heart failure diagnosis has never before been subjected to a randomised controlled trial in the community.

"Accurate diagnosis and management of heart failure patients by general practitioners is a significant health issue for New Zealand.

"Heart failure affects one in ten people over the age of 70, and is the most common cause of medical admission to Auckland Hospital. It is a chronic, irreversible condition that generally affects older people, causing shortness of breath. Those who have had previous heart attacks or other heart problems are especially at risk of this condition. Heart failure patients need to take long-term medication to control the symptoms.

"As modern medicine helps more and more people survive heart attacks, the incidence of heart failure in later life will probably increase. New Zealand hospital admissions for the condition have increased by 50% over the past ten years.

"Heart failure can be difficult to accurately diagnose. The main symptoms are shortness of breath, and ankle swelling - but these can also indicate other conditions. GPs have to make a diagnosis based on the patient's history and symptoms," said Dr Wright.

That is why Dr Wright and her co-researchers were keen to assess the value of the new BNP test as a first-line test for patients with shortness-of-breath in a controlled trial involving General Practitioners.

"305 patients, all of whom had shortness-of-breath or ankle swelling, agreed to take part in the trial. The average age of the patients was 72 years. After an initial cardiological assessment and a BNP test, the patients were then randomised into two groups. Half the patients were reviewed by GPs who were given the BNP results. The other half formed a control group that was reviewed by GPs using customary clinical assessment without the BNP result.

"We found that the GPs who had access to the BNP result improved their diagnostic accuracy by 21%. Those in the control group, however, achieved only an 8% improvement.

"Interestingly, the increase in accuracy was mainly due to GPs ruling out heart failure. GPs were able to correctly exclude heart failure if the BNP result was normal. The trial results showed that N-BNP improved the diagnostic accuracy of heart failure by GPs when compared to conventional clinical assessment.

"Our study - which was recently presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Berlin - now allows the evidence-based recommendation that availability of brain natriuretic peptide measurement to GPs will significantly improve the diagnostic accuracy of heart failure," said Dr Wright.

Two international diagnostic companies currently offer different forms of the BNP test, but its availability in New Zealand is limited to a few hospitals.

The trial was funded by grants from the Health Research Council of New Zealand and the National Heart Foundation.

-end-

For further information contact:

Dr Sue Wright Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences University of Auckland

Ph 09 307 4949 ext 6703

Or

Ellen Strickland Communications Officer Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences University of Auckland

Fiona Stephenson Baldwin Boyle Group PO Box 33886 Takapuna 09 486 6544 025 820 345 fiona.stephenson@bbg.co.nz

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Scoop 3.0: How You Can Help Scoop’s Evolution

We have big plans for 2018 as we look to expand our public interest journalism coverage, upgrade our publishing infrastructure and offer even more valuable business tools to commercial users of Scoop. More>>


Statistics: Butter At Record $5.67/Block; High Vegetable Prices

Rising dairy prices have pushed food prices up 2.7 percent in the year to October 2017, Stats NZ said today. This followed a 3.0 percent increase in the year to September 2017. More>>

ALSO:

Science: New Research Finds Herbicides Cause Antibiotic Resistance

New University of Canterbury research confirms that the active ingredients of the commonly used herbicides, RoundUp, Kamba and 2,4-D (glyphosate, dicamba and 2,4-D, respectively), each alone cause antibiotic resistance at concentrations well below label application rates. More>>

ALSO:

CO2 And Water: Fonterra's Environment Plans

Federated Farmers support Fonterra’s bold push to get to zero emissions of CO2 on the manufacturing side of the Co-operative, both in New Zealand and across its global network. More>>

ALSO:

Fisheries: Decision To Delay Monitoring ‘Fatally Flawed’

Conservation group representatives say a decision by the new Minister of Fisheries, Stuart Nash, to delay implementation of camera monitoring of fishing efforts in New Zealand is ‘fatally flawed’. More>>

ALSO:

Kaikōura Quakes: One Year On

State Highway One and the railway were blocked by damage and slips and the Inland Road suffered significant damage. Farms, homes and businesses suffered building and land damage. Power and internet went down, drinking water systems, sewage systems and local roads were all badly affected... More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Bill Bennett on Tech