The cost-effectiveness of an early interventional strategy in non-ST-elevation acute coronary syndrome based on the RITA 3 trial

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Evidence suggests that an early interventional strategy for patients with non-ST-elevation acute coronary syndrome (NSTE-ACS) can improve health outcomes but also increase costs when compared with a conservative strategy.


The aim of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of an early interventional strategy in different risk groups from a UK health-service perspective.


Decision-analytic model based on randomised clinical trial data.

Main outcome measures:

Costs in UK Sterling at 2003/2004 prices and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) combined into an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio.


Data from the third Randomised Intervention Trial of unstable Angina (RITA 3) was employed to estimate rates of cardiovascular death and myocardial infarction, costs and health-related quality of life. Cost-effectiveness was estimated over patients’ lifetimes within the decision-analytic model.


The mean incremental cost per QALY gained for an early interventional strategy was approximately £55 000, £22 000 and £12 000 for patients at low, intermediate and high risk, respectively. The early interventional strategy is approximately 1%, 35% and 95% likely to be cost-effective for patients at low, intermediate and high risk, respectively, at a threshold of £20 000 per QALY. The cost-effectiveness of early intervention in low-risk patients is sensitive to assumptions about the duration of the treatment effect.


An early interventional strategy in patients presenting with NSTE-ACS is likely to be considered cost-effective for patients at high and intermediate risk, but this is less likely to be the case for patients at low risk.

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