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Mayo Clin Proc. 2008 Mar;83(3):289-96. doi: 10.4065/83.3.289.

Cardiac function and brain-type natriuretic peptide in first-time flash pulmonary edema.

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  • 1Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.



To assess left ventricular (LV) function and brain-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) in patients with first-time flash pulmonary edema (FPE).


We retrospectively studied all patients presenting to Mayo Clinic's site in Rochester, MN, from January 5, 2000, to December 30, 2004, with FPE. Only patients with first-time FPE who had undergone BNP assessment and echocardiography within 24 hours of presentation were included. Patients were divided into 2 groups: those with reduced LV ejection fraction (LVEF) (less than 50%) and those with preserved LVEF (equals 50%).


Thirty-seven patients met the inclusion criteria (22 female, 15 male). Mean plus or minus SD LVEF was 41% plus or minus 13%. The LVEF was reduced in 73% (group 1, n equals 27; mean plus or minus SD age, 75 plus or minus 8 years) and preserved in 27% (group 2, n equals 10; mean plus or minus SD age, 75 plus or minus 13 years). Most frequent underlying causes for first-time FPE were coronary artery disease and hypertension. Patients with preserved LVEF had significantly lower BNP levels at presentation (535 pg/mL [interquartile range, 352-1210 pg/mL]) vs 1320 pg/mL (interquartile range, 768-2000 pg/mL; P equals .01), despite similar elevated LV filling pressures as measured by echocardiography. The mean plus or minus SD ratio of early diastolic mitral valve inflow velocity to early diastolic mitral annulus velocity was 23 plus or minus 8 vs 22 plus or minus 10; P equals .78. Early diastolic mitral annulus velocity, a surrogate measurement for myocardial relaxation, was reduced in all patients with preserved LVEF and in 95% of patients with reduced LVEF.


Coronary artery disease and hypertension are the most common precipitating factors for first-time FPE. Reduced myocardial relaxation in almost all patients regardless of LVEF supports the notion that diastolic dysfunction is a prerequisite for FPE. Levels of BNP were elevated in every patient regardless of LVEF but were significantly lower in patients with preserved LVEF despite similarly elevated LV filling pressures.

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