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Am Heart J. 2006 Nov;152(5):949-55.

Influence of history of heart failure on diagnostic performance and utility of B-type natriuretic peptide testing for acute dyspnea in the emergency department.

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  • 1Department of Cardiology, Concord Hospital, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.



The aim of this study was to assess the impact of a history of heart failure (HF) on emergency department (ED) B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) testing and impact of feedback of BNP level to ED physicians.


Admission BNP was measured in 143 patients (mean age 79 +/- 10 years) presenting to the ED with dyspnea. Emergency department physicians scored probability of HF as cause of dyspnea and categorized cause of dyspnea. An independent cardiologist determined cause of dyspnea after chart review. In 83 patients, ED physicians rescored and reclassified patients after BNP measurement and evaluated test utility.


The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for BNP diagnosis of HF cause of dyspnea was significantly worse in patients with history of HF than those without (0.74 vs 0.94, P < .01) and in those with left ventricular ejection fraction <50% (0.64 vs 0.87, P < .05). A BNP cut point of 100 pg/mL had 100% sensitivity but only 41% specificity for diagnosing acute HF, whereas a cut point of 400 pg/mL had 87% sensitivity and 76% specificity. Emergency department physicians rated BNP useful in 64% of patients, and diagnostic uncertainty was reduced from 53% to 25% (P < .001).


B-type natriuretic peptide test performance for diagnosis of dyspnea cause is significantly reduced in patients with a history of HF and must be taken into consideration in the evaluation of such patients in the ED.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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