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Prognostic value, clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of high sensitivity C-reactive protein as a marker in primary prevention of major cardiac events

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Background: In a substantial portion of patients (= 25%) with coronary heart disease (CHD), a myocardial infarction or sudden cardiac death without prior symptoms is the first manifestation of disease. The use of new risk predictors for CHD such as the high-sensitivity C-reactive Protein (hs-CRP) in addition to established risk factors could improve prediction of CHD. As a consequence of the altered risk assessment, modified preventive actions could reduce the number of cardiac death and non-fatal myocardial infarction. Research question: Does the additional information gained through the measurement of hs-CRP in asymptomatic patients lead to a clinically relevant improvement in risk prediction as compared to risk prediction based on traditional risk factors and is this cost-effective? Methods: A literature search of the electronic databases of the German Institute of Medical Documentation and Information (DIMDI) was conducted. Selection, data extraction, assessment of the study-quality and synthesis of information was conducted according to the methods of evidence-based medicine. Results: Eight publications about predictive value, one publication on the clinical efficacy and three health-economic evaluations were included. In the seven study populations of the prediction studies, elevated CRP-levels were almost always associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular events and non-fatal myocardial infarctions or cardiac death and severe cardiovascular events. The effect estimates (odds ratio (OR), relative risk (RR), hazard ratio (HR)), once adjusted for traditional risk factors, demonstrated a moderate, independent association between hs-CRP and cardiac and cardiovascular events that fell in the range of 0.7 to 2.47. In six of the seven studies, a moderate increase in the area under the curve (AUC) could be detected by adding hs-CRP as a predictor to regression models in addition to established risk factors though in three cases this was not statistically significant. The difference [in the AUC] between the models with and without hs-CRP fell between 0.00 and 0.023 with a median of 0.003. A decision-analytic modeling study reported a gain in life-expectancy for those using statin therapy for populations with elevated hs-CRP levels and normal lipid levels as compared to statin therapy for those with elevated lipid levels (approximately 6.6 months gain in life-expectancy for 58 year olds). Two decision-analytic models (three publications) on cost-effectiveness reported incremental cost-effectiveness ratios between Euro 8,700 and 50,000 per life year gaine

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