Background: There is currently no objective practical guide to intensity of drug treatment for individuals with heart failure. We hypothesised that pharmacotherapy guided by plasma concentrations of the cardiac peptide aminoterminal brain natriuretic peptide (N-BNP) would produce a superior outcome to empirical trial-based therapy dictated by clinical acumen.
Methods: 69 patients with impaired systolic function (left-ventricular ejection fraction <40%) and symptomatic heart failure (New York Heart Association class II-IV) were randomised to receive treatment guided by either plasma N-BNP concentration (BNP group) or standardised clinical assessment (clinical group).
Findings: During follow-up (minimum 6-months, median 9.5 months), there were fewer total cardiovascular events (death, hospital admission, or heart failure decompensation) in the BNP group than in the clinical group (19 vs 54, p=0.02). At 6 months, 27% of patients in the BNP group and 53% in the clinical group had experienced a first cardiovascular event (p=0.034). Changes in left-ventricular function, quality of life, renal function, and adverse events were similar in both groups.
Interpretation: N-BNP-guided treatment of heart failure reduced total cardiovascular events, and delayed time to first event compared with intensive clinically guided treatment.