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Circulation. 2007 Mar 20;115(11):1339-44. Epub 2007 Mar 5.

Increased perioperative N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide levels predict atrial fibrillation after thoracic surgery for lung cancer.

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Cardiology Unit, European Institute of Oncology, IRCCS, Via Ripamonti 435, 20141 Milan, Italy.



Postoperative atrial fibrillation (AF) is a complication of thoracic surgery for lung cancer, with a reported incidence that can run as high as 42%. Recently, it has been observed retrospectively that B-type natriuretic peptide predicts AF after cardiac surgery. We performed a prospective study to evaluate the role of N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) as a marker for risk stratification of postoperative AF in patients undergoing thoracic surgery for lung cancer.


We measured NT-proBNP levels in 400 patients (mean age, 62+/-10 years; 271 men) 24 hours before and 1 hour after surgery. The primary end point of the study was the incidence of postoperative AF. Overall, postoperative AF occurred in 72 patients (18%). Eighty-eight patients (22%) showed an elevated perioperative NT-proBNP value. When patients with either preoperatively or postoperatively elevated NT-proBNP were pooled, a greater incidence of AF was observed compared with patients with normal values (64% versus 5%; P<0.001). At multivariable analysis, adjusted for age, gender, major comorbidities, echocardiography parameters, pneumonectomy, and medications, both preoperative and postoperative NT-proBNP values were independent predictors of AF (relative risk, 27.9; 95% CI, 13.2 to 58.9; P<0.001 for preoperative NT-proBNP elevation; relative risk, 20.1; 95% CI, 5.8 to 69.4; P<0.001 for postoperative NT-proBNP elevation).


Elevation of perioperative NT-proBNP is a strong independent predictor of postoperative AF in patients undergoing thoracic surgery for lung cancer. This finding should facilitate studies of therapies to reduce AF in selected high-risk patients.

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