Cardiac secretion of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) increases with the progression of heart failure (HF), and plasma measurement of BNP has emerged recently as a useful, cost-effective biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of HF. The diagnostic utility of BNP is complemented by its therapeutic use in decompensated HF. Although clinical use of BNP as a biomarker in HF is increasing, the specificity of BNP for HF is not robust, suggesting that other mechanisms beyond simple ventricular stretch stimulate BNP release. Several studies have shown that BNP levels increase in other cardiovascular disease states including ischemia, arrhythmias, fibrosis, cardiac hypertrophy, and coronary endothelial dysfunction. Furthermore, 2 important studies revealed recently that moderate elevations in BNP level, well below the HF range, have prognostic value for future cardiovascular events. Specifically, BNP levels greater than 20 pg/mL were associated with significantly increased risk of HF and atrial fibrillation. These observations increase speculation that elevated BNP levels represent a final common pathway for many cardiovascular pathologic states and that BNP can be used as a biomarker for non-HF mechanisms, preclinical disease, and other pathologic states of myocardial disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas