Estimating the Lifetime Benefits of Treatments for Heart Failure

João Pedro Ferreira, Kieran F. Docherty, Susan Stienen, Pardeep S. Jhund, Brian L. Claggett, Scott D. Solomon, Mark C. Petrie, John Gregson, Stuart J. Pocock, Faiez Zannad, John J. V. McMurray

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: This study compared ways of describing treatment effects. The objective was to better explain to clinicians and patients what they might expect from a given treatment, not only in terms of relative and absolute risk reduction, but also in projections of long-term survival. Background: The restricted mean survival time (RMST) can be used to estimate of long-term survival, providing a complementary approach to more conventional metrics (e.g., absolute and relative risk), which may suggest greater benefits of therapy in high-risk patients compared with low-risk patients. Methods: Relative and absolute risk, as well as the RMST, were calculated in heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) trials. Results: As examples, in the RALES trial (more severe HFrEF), the treatment effect metrics for spironolactone versus placebo on heart failure hospitalization and/or cardiovascular death were a hazard ratio (HR) of 0.67 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.5 to 0.77), number needed to treat = 9 (7 to 14), and age extension of event-free survival +1.1 years (−0.1 to + 2.3 years). The corresponding metrics for EMPHASIS-HF (eplerenone vs. placebo in less severe HFrEF) were 0.64 (0.54 to 0.75), 14 (1 to 22), and +2.9 (1.2 to 4.5). In patients in PARADIGM-HF aged younger than 65 years, the metrics for sacubitril/valsartan versus enalapril were 0.77 (95% CI: 0.68 to 0.88), 23 (15 to 44), and +1.7 (0.6 to 2.8) years; for those aged 65 years or older, the metrics were 0.83 (95% CI: 0.73 to 0.94), 29 (17 to 83), and +0.9 (0.2 to 1.6) years, which provided evidence of a greater potential life extension in younger patients. Similar observations were found for lower risk patients. Conclusions: RMST event-free (and overall) survival estimates provided a complementary means of evaluating the effect of therapy in relation to age and risk. They also provided a clinically useful metric that should be routinely reported and used to explain the potential long-term benefits of a given treatment, especially to younger and less symptomatic patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)984-995
Number of pages12
JournalJACC. Heart failure
Issue number12
Early online date2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • restricted mean survival time
  • survival models
  • treatment effects
  • trials

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