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Scand Cardiovasc J. 2009;43(5):324-9. doi: 10.1080/14017430902769919.

Value of brain natriuretic peptides in primary care patients with the clinical diagnosis of chronic heart failure.

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Department of Cardiology, Kantonsspital Luzern, Luzern, Switzerland.



Brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) and N-Terminal pro natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) are widely accepted to diagnose congestive heart failure (CHF) in the emergency room. The aim of this study was to evaluate the value of BNP and NT-proBNP to diagnose CHF in primary care.


Clinical and Doppler-echocardiographic assessment of patients referred by their general practitioner (GP) with the diagnosis of CHF. Receiver operating curves were used to evaluate the accuracy of BNP and NT-proBNP for echocardiographically confirmed systolic and/or diastolic heart failure.


Three hundred and eighty four patients (mean age of 65) were included. One hundred and ninety three (50%) patients had systolic heart failure and 31 (8%) had isolated diastolic heart failure. Using currently recommended cut-off values of BNP (less than 100 pg/ml) and NT-proBNP (less than 125 pg/ml) for exclusion of CHF, BNP was false negative in 25% and NT-proBNP in 10% of the patients. The area under the curve was better for NT-proBNP than for BNP (0.742 vs. 0.691).


In this population with a high prevalence of CHF, BNP and NT-proBNP failed to adequately rule out CHF. GP's should be cautious when using BNP and NT-proBNP in primary care. An echocardiography remains compulsory in unexplained dyspnea.

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