The incidence, as well as the morbidity and mortality associated with heart failure (HF) continue to rise despite advances in diagnostics and therapeutics. A recent advance in the diagnostic and therapeutic approach to HF is the use of natriuretic peptide (NP) testing, including both B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) and its amino terminal cleavage equivalent (NT-proBNP). NPs may be elevated at an early stage among those with symptoms as well among those without. The optimal approach for applying NP testing in general populations is to select the target population and optimal cut off values carefully. Superior diagnostic performance is observed among those with higher baseline risk (such as hypertensives or diabetics). As well, unlike for acute HF, the cut off value for outpatient testing for BNP is 20-40 pg/mL and for NTproBNP it is 100-150 ng/L. In symptomatic primary care patients, both BNP and NT-proBNP serve as excellent tools for excluding HF based on their excellent negative predictive values and their use may be cost effective. Among those with established HF, it is logical to assume that titration of treatment to achieve lower NPs levels may be advantageous. There are several ongoing trials looking at that prospect.
Keywords: heart failure (HF), natriuretic peptide (NP), hypertensives, diabetics, myocardial infarction