JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Advances in congestive heart failure management in the intensive care unit: B-type natriuretic peptides in evaluation of acute heart failure

Torbjørn Omland
Critical Care Medicine 2008, 36 (1 Suppl): S17-27
18158473

BACKGROUND: Circulating concentrations of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) and the aminoterminal fragment (NT-proBNP) of its prohormone (proBNP) are increased in congestive heart failure in proportion to the severity of symptoms, the degree of left ventricular dysfunction, and cardiac filling pressures. Following the introduction of rapid, automated assays for determination of BNP and NT-proBNP, these peptides are increasingly used for diagnostic and prognostic purposes.

OBJECTIVE: To review studies evaluating the diagnostic and prognostic value of BNP and NT-proBNP, with special emphasis on their performance as indicators of acute heart failure in the intensive care unit.

RESULTS: In patients presenting with acute dyspnea, both BNP and NT-proBNP are accurate indicators of acute heart failure and provide prognostic information above and beyond conventional risk markers. Increased plasma levels of BNP and NT-proBNP are not specific for heart failure and may be influenced by a variety of cardiac and noncardiac conditions commonly seen in the intensive care unit, including myocardial ischemia, cardiac arrhythmias, sepsis, shock, anemia, renal failure, hypoxia, acute pulmonary embolism, pulmonary hypertension, and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

CONCLUSIONS: The diagnostic performance of BNP and NT-proBNP as indicators of acute heart failure depends on the clinical setting. In the intensive care unit, particular caution should be used in the interpretation of elevated BNP and NT-proBNP levels.

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