Cost-effectiveness of 7-day-Holter monitoring alone or in combination with transthoracic echocardiography in patients with cerebral ischemia

2013-12-06 00:00:002023

Background and purpose

Prolonged Holter monitoring of patients with cerebral ischemia increases the detection rate of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (PAF); this leads to improved antithrombotic regimens aimed at preventing recurrent ischemic strokes. The aim of this study was to compare a 7-day-Holter monitoring (7-d-Holter) alone or in combination with prior selection via transthoracic echocardiography (TTE) to a standard 24-h-Holter using a cost-utility analysis.


Lifetime cost, quality-adjusted life years (QALY), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICER) were estimated for a cohort of patients with acute cerebral ischemia and no contraindication to oral anticoagulation. A Markov model was developed to simulate the long-term course and progression of cerebral ischemia considering the different diagnostic algorithms (24-h-Holter, 7-d-Holter, 7-d-Holter after preselection by TTE). Clinical data for these algorithms were derived from the prospective observational Find-AF study (ISRCTN 46104198).


Predicted lifelong discounted costs were 33,837 € for patients diagnosed by the 7-d-Holter and 33,852 € by the standard 24-h-Holter. Cumulated QALYs were 3.868 for the 7-d-Holter compared to 3.844 for the 24-h-Holter. The 7-d-Holter dominated the 24-h-Holter in the base-case scenario and remained cost-effective in extensive sensitivity analysis of key input parameter with a maximum of 8,354 €/QALY gained. Preselecting patients for the 7-d-Holter had no positive effect on the cost-effectiveness.


A 7-d-Holter to detect PAF in patients with cerebral ischemia is cost-effective. It increases the detection which leads to improved antithrombotic regimens; therefore, it avoids recurrent strokes, saves future costs, and decreases quality of life impairment. Preselecting patients by TTE does not improve cost-effectiveness.