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15.11.2017 | Trial Design | Ausgabe 2/2018

Clinical Research in Cardiology 2/2018

Point-of-care B-type natriuretic peptide and portable echocardiography for assessment of patients with suspected heart failure in primary care: rationale and design of the three-part Handheld-BNP program and results of the training study

Clinical Research in Cardiology > Ausgabe 2/2018
Caroline Morbach, Thomas Buck, Christian Rost, Sebastian Peter, Stephan Günther, Stefan Störk, Christiane Prettin, Raimund Erbel, Georg Ertl, Christiane E. Angermann, On Behalf of the Handheld-BNP Research Network
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s00392-017-1181-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Patients with suspected heart failure (HF) often present first to general practitioners (GPs). Timely and accurate HF diagnosis and reliable prognostic information have remained unmet goals in primary care, where patient evaluation often relies on clinical assessment only. The Handheld-BNP program investigates whether additional use of portable echocardiography (ECHO) and point-of-care determination of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) improves the accuracy of HF diagnosis and aids risk prediction in primary care.

Methods and results

A research network was established between 2 academic centers, 2 × 6 cardiologists, and 2 × 24 GPs inexperienced with ECHO and BNP. The Training Study investigates the feasibility of implementing GP use and interpretation of ECHO and BNP. After training, competence is assessed using multiple-choice testing (pass mark: > 80% correct diagnoses). In the cluster-randomized four-arm Screening Study, each GP passes in random order through four study arms: clinical assessment (CA), CA + BNP, CA + ECHO, and CA + ECHO + BNP. Cardiologists’ diagnoses serve as reference. Primary endpoint is the rate of correct GP diagnoses per study arm. In the Prognostic Follow-Up Study, patients are followed up centrally for 72 months. Forty-four GPs were successfully trained. With 225 ± 34 (75 ± 3) and 233 ± 28 (81 ± 7) min, respectively, total ECHO (BNP) training times were similar between centers I and II. Furthermore, training results did not differ between centers.


Standardized training of limited duration enabled GPs to use ECHO and BNP for HF diagnosis. The Handheld-BNP program will provide robust evaluation of the diagnostic effectiveness and prognostic value of these tools in primary care.

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1593 KB)
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