Low NT-proBNP levels in overweight and obese patients do not rule out a diagnosis of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction

Leo F Buckley, Justin M Canada, Marco G Del Buono, Salvatore Carbone, Cory R Trankle, Hayley Billingsley, Dinesh Kadariya, Ross Arena, Benjamin W Van Tassell, Antonio Abbate
ESC Heart Failure 2018, 5 (2): 372-378

BACKGROUND: Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) is a heterogeneous syndrome that presents clinicians with a diagnostic challenge. The use of natriuretic peptides to exclude a diagnosis of HFpEF has been proposed. We sought to compare HFpEF patients with N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) level above and below the proposed cut-off.

METHODS: Stable patients (n = 30) with left ventricular (LV) ejection fraction ≥ 50% were eligible if they had a diagnosis of HF according to the European Society of Cardiology diagnostic criteria. Characteristics of patients with NT-proBNP below (≤125 pg/mL) and above (>125 pg/mL) the diagnostic criterion were compared.

RESULTS: There were 19 (66%) women with median age 54 years. Half were African American (16, 53%), and most were obese. There were no significant differences in clinical characteristics or medication use between groups. LV end-diastolic volume index was greater in high NT-proBNP patients (P = 0.03). Left atrial volume index, E/e' ratio, and E/e' ratio at peak exercise were not significantly different between NT-proBNP groups. Peak oxygen consumption (VO2 ), VO2 at ventilatory threshold, and ventilatory efficiency measures were impaired in all patients and were not significantly different between high and low NT-proBNP patients.

CONCLUSIONS: NT-proBNP was below the proposed diagnostic cut-off point of 125 pg/mL in half of this obese study cohort. Cardiac diastolic dysfunction and cardiorespiratory fitness were not significantly different between high and low NT-proBNP patients. These data indicate that excluding the diagnosis of HFpEF based solely on NT-proBNP levels should be discouraged.

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