blood testA ground-breaking study into a simple blood test that could help predict and prevent heart failure has been awarded the most prestigious research prize by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).

A team of researchers from University College, Dublin, and St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin led by Professor Ken McDonald and Dr Mark Ledwidge, was awarded the RCGP Research Paper of the Year at last week’s Annual Primary Care Conference in Liverpool for their paper “Natriuretic Peptide–Based Screening and Collaborative Care for Heart Failure: The STOP-HF Randomized Trial”. Dr Joe Gallagher accepted the award on behalf of the team. 

1374 participants from 39 primary care centres in Ireland, who had an elevated level of natriuretic peptide - a protein released by the heart when under stress or strain - participated in the study. They were given a heart ultrasound, lifestyle advice and reviewed by both their GP and cardiovascular consultant.

As well as reducing repeated heart failure and hospital admissions for patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease, the researchers found that this approach reduced new onset of heart failure and significant heart dysfunction by 45% and led to a 40% reduction in hospital admissions for other major cardiovascular episodes such as heart attack or stroke by 40%.

  The RCGP is the largest Medical Royal College in the UK and represents 50,000 family doctors. The Research Paper of the Year award gives recognition to an individual or group of researchers who have undertaken and published an exceptional piece of research relating to general practice or primary care. Entries must fall into six categories, which are aligned to the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) research delivery divisions.

The research was submitted in the Cardiovascular, Endocrine and Renal category and was conducted at the Chronic Cardiovascular Disease Management Unit, St Vincent’s Healthcare Group/St Michael’s Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. It was first published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Professor Chris Salisbury, Chair of the RCGP Research Paper of the Year, said: “The standard of entries for this year’s award was outstanding and we are delighted to be giving the overall prize to Joseph Gallagher and the team. “Their study is a true example of how research in primary care can be translated into every day general practice and has the potential to save the lives of thousands of our patients.”