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J Card Fail. 2005 Dec;11(9):705-12.

B-type natriuretic peptide testing for structural heart disease screening: a general population-based study.

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Second Department of Internal Medicine, Iwate Medical University School of Medicine, Iwate, Japan.

Erratum in

  • J Card Fail. 2006 Mar;12(2):170.



Several types of structural heart disease are important precursors for congestive heart failure or cardioembolic stroke. We have previously demonstrated that plasma B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) measurement is useful for detection of structural heart disease in a multiphasic health screening setting. To extend our hypothesis to the general population, the utility of BNP testing for identifying structural heart disease was assessed in a general population and in subgroups divided by sex, age, and presence/absence of risk factors.


This cross-sectional cohort study measured plasma BNP concentrations in 993 randomly selected community-dwelling adults (mean age 58 years). All subjects underwent plasma BNP measurement and transthoracic echocardiography. Using prejudged criteria, 41 subjects were diagnosed to have some form of structural heart disease (mild left ventricular systolic dysfunction in 11, valvular heart disease in 9, hypertensive heart disease in 3, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in 2, ischemic heart disease in 2, lone atrial fibrillation in 14). The utility of BNP testing was evaluated by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis and by cost analysis for detection of 1 case within each subgroup of the cohort. Overall, the sensitivity and specificity of BNP testing for identification of structural heart disease were 61% and 92%, respectively. The area under the ROC curve was 0.77 (95% CI; 0.74-0.79). When sex-specific ROC analyses were performed, sensitivity and specificity were 61% and 91% in men, and 50% and 95% in women, respectively. Although the performance of BNP testing on the basis of these figures might be suboptimal, efficacy was improved in subgroups with a high prevalence of heart disease (>8%) such as the cohort aged > or =65 years (men, area under ROC curve = 0.88; cost <US $1400: women, area under ROC curve = 0.83; cost <US $3000) as well as the cohort having cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension or diabetes (men, area under ROC curve = 0.85; cost <US $1700: women, area under ROC curve = 0.83; cost <US $3100).


The present results suggest that BNP testing for structural heart disease screening in community-based populations is useful for cohorts with a high prevalence of heart disease. However, its efficacy is reduced in cohorts with a low prevalence rate.

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