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Am J Med. 2006 Jan;119(1):69.e1-11.

Impact of the history of congestive heart failure on the utility of B-type natriuretic peptide in the emergency diagnosis of heart failure: results from the Breathing Not Properly Multinational Study.

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  • 1University of California, San Diego, Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego, Calif 92161, USA.



B-type natriuretic peptide is known to correlate with hemodynamic state, presence and severity of congestive heart failure, and prognosis. Although low-range B-type natriuretic peptide less than 100 pg/mL has a high negative predictive value (90%), and high-range B-type natriuretic peptide greater than 500 pg/mL has a high positive predictive value (87%), there remains some ambiguity in the interpretation of results in the medium range (100-500 pg/mL). We hypothesized that taking into account the history of congestive heart failure along with other clinical variables would be helpful in this range of B-type natriuretic peptide levels.


The Breathing Not Properly Multicenter Study was an international, 7-center, prospective study including 1475 patients with a mean age of 63 years (57% were male, and 54% were female); 35% of patients with a history of congestive heart failure were enrolled, and a final diagnosis of congestive heart failure was made in 46%. The index criteria was defined as positive if any 2 index findings (ie, history of coronary artery disease, lower extremity edema, pulmonary edema, cephalization of the pulmonary arteries, and cardiomegaly) were present.


The interval likelihood ratios (LR) for low, medium, and high B-type natriuretic peptide ranges are 0.13, 1.85, and 8.1, respectively. For medium B-type natriuretic peptide levels a positive history of congestive heart failure makes the diagnosis of congestive heart failure more probable with a cumulative LR of 4.3. Also in this range a positive index criterion was strongly indicative of congestive heart failure even in the absence of a history of congestive heart failure (LR 3.3). Where there are both a positive history of congestive heart failure and a positive index criteria for the medium B-type natriuretic peptide group, the cumulative LR (10.2) is similar to that of a high B-type natriuretic peptide level (8.1).


Even in the medium range (100-500 pg/mL), when using the history of congestive heart failure and index criteria, B-type natriuretic peptide can be a powerful diagnostic tool in the hands of clinicians in the emergency department.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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