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ObjectiveTo describe associations between initial management of people presenting with heart failure (HF) symptoms in primary care, including compliance with the recommendations of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), and subsequent unplanned hospitalisation for HF and death.MethodsThis is a retrospective cohort study using data from general practices submitting records to the Clinical Practice Research Datalink. The cohort comprised patients diagnosed with HF during 2010–2013 and presenting to their general practitioners with breathlessness, fatigue or ankle swelling.Results13 897 patients were included in the study. Within the first 6 months, only 7% had completed the NICE-recommended pathway; another 18.6% had followed part of it (B-type natriuretic peptide testing and/or echocardiography, or specialist referral). Significant differences in hazards were seen in unadjusted analysis in favour of full or partial completion of the NICE-recommended pathway. Covariate adjustment attenuated the relations with death much more than those for HF admission. Compared with patients placed on the NICE pathway, treatment with HF medications had an HR of 1.16 (95% CI 1.05 to 1.28, p=0.003) for HF admission and 1.03 (95% CI 0.90 to 1.17, p= 0.674) for death. Patients who partially followed the NICE pathway had similar hazards to those who completed it. Patients on no pathway had the highest hazard for HF admission at 1.30 (95% 1.18 to 1.43, p<0.001) but similar hazard for death.ConclusionsPatients not put on at least some elements of the NICE-recommended pathway had significantly higher risk of HF admission but non-significant higher risk of death than other patients had.

Original publication




Journal article


Open Heart



Publication Date





e000935 - e000935