Background and aims: Documentation of atrial fibrillation is required to initiate oral anticoagulation therapy for recurrent stroke prevention. Atrial fibrillation often goes undetected with traditional electrocardiogram monitoring techniques. We evaluated whether atrial fibrillation detection using continuous long-term monitoring with an insertable cardiac monitor is cost-effective for preventing recurrent stroke in patients with cryptogenic stroke, in comparison to the standard of care.
Methods: A lifetime Markov model was developed to estimate the cost-effectiveness of insertable cardiac monitors from a UK National Health Service perspective using data from the randomized CRYSTAL-AF trial and other published literature. We also conducted scenario analyses (CHADS2 score) and probabilistic sensitivity analyses. All costs and benefits were discounted at 3.5%.
Results: Monitoring cryptogenic stroke patients with an insertable cardiac monitor was associated with fewer recurrent strokes and increased quality-adjusted life years compared to the standard of care (7.37 vs 7.22). Stroke-related costs were reduced in insertable cardiac monitor patients, but overall costs remained higher than the standard of care (£19,631 vs £17,045). The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was £17,175 per quality-adjusted life years gained, compared to standard of care in the base-case scenario, which is below established quality-adjusted life years willingness-to-pay thresholds. When warfarin replaced non-vitamin-K oral anticoagulants as the main anticoagulation therapy, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio was £13,296 per quality-adjusted life years gained.
Conclusion: Insertable cardiac monitors are a cost-effective diagnostic tool for the prevention of recurrent stroke in patients with cryptogenic stroke. The cost-effectiveness results have relevance for the UK and across value-based healthcare systems that assess costs relative to outcomes.
Keywords: Atrial fibrillation; cost-effectiveness analysis; cryptogenic stroke; economics; insertable cardiac monitor; oral anticoagulation therapy.
© 2016 World Stroke Organization.