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Original Investigation
April 22, 2020

Assessment of Limitations to Optimization of Guideline-Directed Medical Therapy in Heart Failure From the GUIDE-IT Trial: A Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Clinical Trial

Author Affiliations
  • 1University Medical Center and Duke Clinical Research Institute, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
  • 2Heart Function Clinic, Division of Cardiology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • 3Canadian VIGOUR Centre, Katz Group Centre for Pharmacy and Health Research, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • 4Department of Cardiology, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy
  • 5Inova Heart and Vascular Institute, Fairfax, Virginia
  • 6Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 7Section of Cardiovascular Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
  • 8Department of Cardiology, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill
  • 9Division of Cardiology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York
  • 10Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Maryland
  • 11Baim Institute for Clinical Research, Cardiology Division, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
JAMA Cardiol. 2020;5(7):757-764. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2020.0640
Key Points

Question  What heart failure medication was used and what were reasons for not titrating therapy in the Guiding Evidence-Based Therapy Using Biomarker Intensified Treatment study?

Findings  In this secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial including 838 patients with heart failure and reduced ejection fraction, medication adjustments were made during 2847 of 5218 qualified visits (54.6%). The most common reasons for not adjusting were “clinically stable” and “already at maximally tolerated therapy,” and at 6 months, only 130 patients (15.5%) achieved optimal guideline-directed medical therapy (≥50% of the target dose of β-blockers, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers, or any dose of mineralocorticoid antagonists).

Meaning  These results suggest that opportunities exist to titrate medications for maximal benefit in patients with heart failure.

Abstract

Importance  Despite evidence that guideline-directed medical therapy (GDMT) improves outcomes in patients with heart failure (HF) and reduced ejection fraction, many patients are undertreated. The Guiding Evidence-Based Therapy Using Biomarker Intensified Treatment (GUIDE-IT) trial tested whether a strategy of using target concentrations of N-terminal pro–brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) to guide optimization of GDMT could improve outcomes.

Objective  To examine medical therapy for HF in GUIDE-IT and potential reasons why the intervention did not produce improvements in medical therapy.

Design, Setting, and Participants  GUIDE-IT, a randomized clinical trial performed at 45 sites in the United States and Canada, was conducted from January 16, 2013, to September 20, 2016. A total of 894 patients with HF and reduced ejection fraction (≤40%) were randomized to NT-proBNP−guided treatment with a goal to suppress NT-proBNP concentrations to less than 1000 pg/mL vs usual care. This secondary analysis examined the medical therapy titration and reasons why the intervention did not produce improvements in care and outcomes. Data were analyzed March 27 to June 28, 2019.

Main Outcomes and Measures  For each encounter, medication titrations were captured. A reason was requested if a modification was not made. A Cox proportional hazards regression model was used to assess the independent association of drug class with outcomes.

Results  Among the 838 patients available for analysis (566 men [67.5%]; median age, 62.0 years), 6223 visits occurred during 24 months. Adjustments of HF medication were made during 2847 of 5218 qualified visits (54.6%) (all usual care visits and all guided care visits with NT-proBNP level ≥1000 pg/mL) in 862 patients (96.4%). Most adjustments occurred within the first 6 months, primarily within the first 6 weeks. The most common reasons for not adjusting were “clinically stable” and “already at maximally tolerated therapy.” Only 130 patients (15.5%) achieved optimal GDMT (≥50% of the target dose of β-blockers or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors/angiotensin receptor blockers or any dose of mineralocorticoid antagonists) at 6 months, an increase from the baseline (79 of 891 [8.9%]) but not different by treatment arm. Higher doses of β-blockers were associated with reduced risk of the composite outcome of HF hospitalization and cardiovascular death (hazard ratio [HR], 0.98; 95% CI, 0.97-1.00; P = .008) and of all-cause death (HR, 0.97; 95% CI, 0.95-0.99; P = .01). Higher doses of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (HR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.75-0.93; P < .001) and angiotensin receptor blockers (HR, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.71-0.99; P = .04) were associated with reduced risk of all-cause death. Increasing doses of mineralocorticoid antagonists did not appear to be associated with improved outcomes.

Conclusions and Relevance  Despite a protocol-driven approach, many patients in GUIDE-IT did not receive medication adjustments and did not achieve optimal GDMT, including those with known elevated NT-proBNP concentrations. These results suggest that opportunities exist to titrate medications for maximal benefit in HF. GUIDE-IT may have failed to achieve treatment benefit because of therapeutic inertia in clinical practice, or current GDMT goals may be unrealistic.

Trial Registration  ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01685840

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