Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a genetic disorder that leads to elevated plasma LDL-cholesterol levels and premature coronary heart disease (CHD). An understanding of the mutations responsible for FH and the effectiveness of statins in lowering the risk of CHD in FH patients has increased interest in genetic screening strategies to improve FH diagnosis. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of such strategies.
We performed a systematic review of full economic evaluations that assessed the cost-effectiveness of FH genetic screening strategies. We used relevant search terms to investigate Medline, Scopus, Web of Science, the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects, the Health Technology Assessment Database, and the National Health Service Economic Evaluation Database. Data extraction and assessment of the quality of the studies were performed independently by two reviewers. The key features of the included studies are summarized in a narrative synthesis.
We included seven economic evaluations that assessed the cost-effectiveness of genetic screening for FH, published mainly in Europe between 2002 and 2015. Most studies had a no-screening strategy as a comparator, focused on relatives of index cases with genetic or clinical diagnosis of FH (cascade screening), considered a lifetime horizon and adopted a health care payer viewpoint. Cascade screening, based on genetic testing of relatives of an index case with confirmed clinical or genetic diagnosis of FH, was shown to be cost-effective in most settings.
Our review confirms the cost-effectiveness of cascade genetic screening for the diagnosis of FH. Further research may be needed to assess the cost-effectiveness of cascade screening following the introduction of newly recommended therapeutic regimes and next-generation sequencing.