Screening for BNP & Targeted Care Reduce Heart Failure in At-Risk Patients

Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:52pm EDT

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Study shows simple blood test may help patients with risks for heart disease
SAN FRANCISCO--(Business Wire)--
Alere Inc. (NYSE: ALR) is pleased to announce the results of research presented
at today`s American College of Cardiology`s 62nd Annual Scientific Session,
which showed that a simple screening and management program can be effective in
preventing heart failure for at-risk patients. 

The five-year STOP-HF study enrolled asymptomatic patients over 40 years of age
with risk factors for heart failure and randomized them into intervention and
control groups. Patients in the intervention group were screened for blood
levels of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), a hormone that indicates how well
the heart is functioning, using the Alere Triage Meter and, if necessary,
received specialized care. Control-group patients continued to receive standard
care from their physicians. Researchers found that a significantly lower number
of patients in the intervention group than in the control group met the primary
endpoint of new onset heart failure requiring hospitalization or left
ventricular dysfunction (5.3 vs. 8.7 percent, p = 0.01). 

"The results of this study indicated that use of BNP in the community may
facilitate prevention strategies aimed at reducing heart failure, left
ventricular dysfunction and cardiovascular events," said Kenneth McDonald, MD,
director of the Heart Failure Unit at St. Vincent`s University Hospital in
Dublin and one of the authors on the STOP-HF study. "Our study shows that a
simple blood test screening, followed by targeted care of people at heightened
risk of heart failure, can result in a dramatic reduction in cardiovascular
events. This is good news, since heart failure has become a major public health
problem and middle-aged adults today have a 20 to 30 percent lifetime risk of
developing heart failure." 

Nearly 6 million Americans have heart failure, a condition in which heart
function has deteriorated as a result of various forms of damage, including
prior heart attack, chronic high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. Elevated
BNP levels can indicate established heart failure, and healthcare providers use
patients` BNP levels to determine the severity. BNP levels can also, as shown by
the STOP-HF study, be used to indicate risk of heart failure and the possible
need for more focused intervention. 

The STOP-HF study recruited 1,374 patients from 39 family practices. The
patients in the intervention arm were screened at least annually for
cardiovascular risks and blood levels of BNP. Two in five (41.6 percent)
patients in the intervention group showed elevated BNP levels at some point
during the study. These patients received an echocardiogram and continued care
under both their physicians and a specialist cardiology service. In addition to
showing lower rates of the primary endpoint, intervention patients also had
lower rates of emergency hospitalization for major cardiovascular events (22.3
vs. 40.4 per 1,000 patient years, p<0.001). 

"While we have made great strides in the management of heart failure, outlook
for these patients remains poor with reduced longevity and quality of life. The
STOP-HF project provides the first example of how a structured screening and
intervention strategy can prevent heart failure," Professor McDonald said. 

Most other studies on heart failure have focused on treatment of the established
syndrome, and researchers hope the results of this study will encourage
healthcare providers to look at prevention while also implementing simple,
low-cost screening systems for their at-risk patients. 

Researchers recommend that their study population be followed over time to see
whether intervention benefits persist, and that the study be repeated in other
healthcare systems. They hope to evaluate other potential screening tests to
identify additional patients at risk for heart failure. 

The STOP-HF study was funded by the Health Services Executive and the Health
Research Board of the Irish government, the European Commission Framework
Programme 7 Media Project, and the Heartbeat Trust, an independent charity
focused on heart failure prevention. The Heartbeat Trust has received
unrestricted educational and research grants from Alere, Pfizer, A. Menarini,
Roche, Takeda, Abbott, Servier and Merck. 

About Alere

By developing new capabilities in near-patient diagnosis, monitoring and health
information technology, Alere enables individuals to take charge of improving
their health and quality of life at home. Alere's global leading products and
services, as well as its new product development efforts, focus on cardiology,
infectious disease, toxicology and diabetes. Alere is headquartered in Waltham,
Massachusetts. For more information regarding Alere, please visit
For more information about Alere`s heart failure products, please go to

Alere Inc.
Eric Hartsock, 443-858-4437 

Copyright Business Wire 2013

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