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Objective: To estimate the costs and consequences of diagnosing symptomatic heart failure with left ventricular systolic dysfunction and initiating angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors in primary care. Design: Analysis of individual patient data from studies of left ventricular dysfunction (SOLVD) to identify complications during test dose and titration phases. Setting: Two randomised controlled trials in secondary care. Participants: 7487 patients taking a test dose of enalapril at enrolment to the treatment and prevention trials; 2569 patients with clinical signs of heart failure and established left ventricular dysfunction entered the treatment trial. Main outcome measures: Discontinuation during the test dose period. Discontinuation or reduction of dose during the first year of treatment for heart failure. Costs of diagnosis and titration of treatment. Results: During the test dose phase, 585 patients (7.8%) reported side effects; 136 (1.8%) of these discontinued because of severe side effects. During the titration phase, compared with placebo, enalapril was associated with an increased risk of dose reduction due to hypotension (odds ratio 2.09, 95% confidence interval 1.15 to 3.82). However, overall, there was no difference in the rates of side effects leading to dose reduction or withdrawal between the enalapril and placebo groups. The costs of diagnosing heart failure with left ventricular systolic dysfunction and initiating and titrating an angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor in primary care are £300 to £400. Conclusions: Treatment with angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors can be safely started for patients with heart failure and left ventricular systolic dysfunction in primary care.

Original publication




Journal article


British Medical Journal

Publication Date





1113 - 1116