Purpose of review: To evaluate new development in the utility of brain natriuretic peptide and N-Terminal brain natriuretic peptide (BNP/NT-Pro-BNP) in the management of various cardiovascular diseases. The determination of plasma BNP levels has an established role in the discrimination of pulmonary oedema from other causes of acute dyspnoea, and there is increasing evidence of the utility of BNP/NT-Pro-BNP assay both as a prognostic tool in chronic heart failure and as a means of guiding therapy in heart failure patients aged below 70 years.
Recent findings: Findings have substantially extended the clinical utility of BNP/NT-Pro-BNP assay. In heart failure with preserved left ventricular ejection fraction, BNP elevation may also facilitate diagnosis, although its precise utility is uncertain.
In the acute catecholamine-induced myocardial inflammatory condition of Tako-Tsubo cardiomyopathy (TTC), BNP/NT-Pro-BNP elevations are marked and persist for at least 3 months, despite the absence of pulmonary oedema. In TTC, BNP/NT-Pro-BNP therefore serves as an ancillary diagnostic measure as well as a marker of recovery. Among other conditions in which BNP assay may provide prognostic information are atrial fibrillation (in which the extent of elevation predicts thromboembolic risk) and pulmonary hypertension.
Summary: BNP/NT-Pro-BNP assay has widespread utility as an adjunct to cardiovascular disease diagnosis and management.