Context: It is uncertain whether intensified heart failure therapy guided by N-terminal brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) is superior to symptom-guided therapy.
Objective: To compare 18-month outcomes of N-terminal BNP-guided vs symptom-guided heart failure therapy.
Design, setting, and patients: Randomized controlled multicenter Trial of Intensified vs Standard Medical Therapy in Elderly Patients With Congestive Heart Failure (TIME-CHF) of 499 patients aged 60 years or older with systolic heart failure (ejection fraction < or = 45%), New York Heart Association (NYHA) class of II or greater, prior hospitalization for heart failure within 1 year, and N-terminal BNP level of 2 or more times the upper limit of normal. The study had an 18-month follow-up and it was conducted at 15 outpatient centers in Switzerland and Germany between January 2003 and June 2008.
Intervention: Uptitration of guideline-based treatments to reduce symptoms to NYHA class of II or less (symptom-guided therapy) and BNP level of 2 times or less the upper limit of normal and symptoms to NYHA class of II or less (BNP-guided therapy).
Main outcome measures: Primary outcomes were 18-month survival free of all-cause hospitalizations and quality of life as assessed by structured validated questionnaires.
Results: Heart failure therapy guided by N-terminal BNP and symptom-guided therapy resulted in similar rates of survival free of all-cause hospitalizations (41% vs 40%, respectively; hazard ratio [HR], 0.91 [95% CI, 0.72-1.14]; P = .39). Patients' quality-of-life metrics improved over 18 months of follow-up but these improvements were similar in both the N-terminal BNP-guided and symptom-guided strategies. Compared with the symptom-guided group, survival free of hospitalization for heart failure, a secondary end point, was higher among those in the N-terminal BNP-guided group (72% vs 62%, respectively; HR, 0.68 [95% CI, 0.50-0.92]; P = .01). Heart failure therapy guided by N-terminal BNP improved outcomes in patients aged 60 to 75 years but not in those aged 75 years or older (P < .02 for interaction)
Conclusion: Heart failure therapy guided by N-terminal BNP did not improve overall clinical outcomes or quality of life compared with symptom-guided treatment.
Trial registration: isrctn.org Identifier: ISRCTN43596477.