Patient FAQ – StopHF


Who are The Heartbeat Trust

The Heartbeat Trust is Ireland’s national heart failure charity. It was established in 2004 by Prof Ken McDonald and Dr. Mark Ledwidge to support specialist clinical and research services in heart failure and heart failure prevention in Ireland. Our Mission is to improve Heart Failure care for all through advocacy and the provision of internationally leading research and services.

What is STOPHF?

STOPHF is the Screening to Prevent Heart Failure service run by The Heartbeat Trust and is aimed at prevention and early detection of heart failure. The screening initiative is where individuals (over 40 years of age who have one cardiovascular risk factor such as high blood pressure or diabetes) have a simple  Natriuretic Peptide (NP) blood test which can predict those at risk of not just heart failure but other cardiovascular diseases, allowing more focused care to be directed to these at individuals.

Originally based in St Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire STOP-HF is now starting to be deployed nationwide.

Who can participate in STOPHF?

    • over 40 years of age
    • one cardiovascular risk factor such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes
    • In order to participate on the STOPHF service you will need to be referred by your GP to our STOPHF unit in St Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.

What is Natriuretic Peptide (NP)?

Natriuretic peptide is a protein that is released if there is stress or strain on the heart muscle. It can be measured in two ways: BNP (B-Type Natriuretic Peptide) and NTproBNP (N-Terminal pro B-Type Natriuretic Peptide).

What could the test show?

When in the STOP-HF screening programme, a small blood sample to test NP levels. Higher-than-normal results suggest that a person is at risk of developing heart failure, and the level of NP in the blood is related to risk severity. If the tests show high risk, there is no need to be alarmed. It is time to get proactive and the team at STOPHF unit of The Heartbeat Trust will advise and educate you in how best to manage your risk factors for heart failure including diet and lifestyle.To learn more about how you can be proactive about your own health and lifestyle choices please visit: EDUCATION SECTION

What other kind of tests are performed at the STOP-HF Unit?

Blood tests may be performed such as Cholesterol, Non-fasting glucose (blood sugar). Thorough history taking and a physical examination is completed on every visit. And you may have some or all of the following: Electrocardiogram (ECG), Echocardiogram (Heart Ultrasound), 24-hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor (24hr ABPM), 24-hour Holter Monitor and Treadmill Exercise Stress Test.

In certain rare circumstances you may be referred for a Coronary Angiogram.

Will I get the results on the day?

The blood test only takes a few minutes, if visiting the STOP-HF Unit the results will be sent to your GP.

Will my GP get a copy of my result sent to them?

Yes, your results will be sent to your GP.

How often do I have to be tested? This depends on your BNP results.

    • Less than 20 – every 3 years
    • 20 -49 – every 2 years
    • Greater than 50 – yearly

Is it a study?

STOP-HF originally began as a clinical trial however due to successful publication in academic journals and international recognition it has been rolled out as a screening service. The service is currently offered in St. Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire and the Midlands region supported by the Heartbeat Trust. Studies continue in order to continue to improve outcomes for patients.

Who is organizing and funding this research?

This study is sponsored by the European Commission, the HSE, private industry and the Heartbeat Trust and is being conducted in Ireland by St. Vincent’s University Healthcare Group and University College Dublin.

What is the role of St. Vincent‘s University Healthcare Group, The Heartbeat Trust and University College Dublin’s in this study:

St. Vincent’s University Hospital, the Heartbeat Trust and University College Dublin are working with other specialist research centres throughout Europe in an effort to improve detection and prevention of heart failure. It is believed that a collaborative approach to research in this area will be the fastest and most effective way to improve patient care. This will require sharing our information with our European colleagues to create a large research population.  

What will happen if I volunteer?

Your participation is entirely voluntary. You will also receive an assessment every one to three years depending on the NP result. Assessment includes taking a history of your risk factors for heart failure, up to date medical and surgical history, medications being taken, and assessment of any symptoms you may have. You will have your blood pressure, heart rate, weight and abdominal girth taken. You will also have an electrocardiogram (ECG) and echocardiogram (a scan of your heart) done.

All participants are educated in how best to manage their risk factors for heart failure including diet and lifestyle.

Information pertaining to your health may at intervals be collected from your General Practitioner (GP) and your hospital records

Do I have to take part and what happens if I do not agree to participate?

Your participation is entirely voluntary. If you choose not to participate in the STOP-HF follow up study your medical care, your participation in other research studies and your rights will not be affected in any way. If you initially decide to take part you can subsequently change your mind without difficulty. Furthermore your doctor may decide to withdraw you from the study if he/she feels it is in your best interest.

Are there any risks involved in participating?

The only risk involved is related to the taking of your blood samples. Having blood taken from a vein involves very little risk other than mild discomfort, bruising, feeling faint or fainting. On very rare occasions bleeding, infection, clot formation and / or nerve damage can occur but these complications are extremely rare. The risks of any other investigations and / or treatments recommended as a result of any abnormalities detected will be thoroughly explained to you.


Your identity and data at all times will remain confidential. A study number will identify you. Your name will not be published or disclosed to anyone.  Only authorised trained personnel within the hospital will have access to your identifiable data and samples. Data will be collected as usual in the paper based record and the secure database of the Heartbeat Trust and St. Vincent’s Heart Failure Unit. The data will also be stored in an electronic case report form (eCRF). The data will be encrypted and stored on secure servers. It may be shared anonymously with centres outside of Ireland.

How to contact us

Please contact us for any queries relating to STOPHF.

Phone: 01 2845735

Email:  info@stophf.ie or info@heartbeat-trust.org

Web: www.heartbeat-trust.ie or www.stophf.ie

Patient Testimonials

Some words from our patients:

“It is indeed so very reassuring to know that we have excellent doctors such as Prof McDonald and his team working on our behalf.’

“As a spouse of a stroke survivor, tonight talks made me more aware of the actions I need to take for my own health as well as that of my husbands.”

“I find the process reassuring and the people involved in STOPHF very kind and helpful”

“I feel secure in the knowledge that I am being monitored. Beneficial in having ongoing advice etc.”

“Because of the thoroughness of the annual checks I was kept aware of my medical condition”

“While on the research programme it was discovered I had too much hormone. Then I was sent to the Endocrinology team in SVUH for many tests. I was diagnosed to have a growth in my pituitary and acromegaly. I had surgery in Beaumont Hospital to remove the growth. I am so grateful to the Heartbeat Trust for finding this and sending me to have it researched and treated.

“Lovely people. Great work over many years which will clearly help our nation. Thank you for your information”