Physicians' Academy for Cardiovascular Education

BNP also predicts mortality in patients without heart failure

B-Type Natriuretic Peptide Levels and Mortality in Patients With and Without Heart Failure

Literature - York MK, Gupta DK, Reynolds CF et al. - J Am Coll Cardiol 2018;71:2079–88

Introduction and methods

B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) concentration is a prognostic marker for recurrent heart failure (HF) hospitalizations and death in HF patients, but information is lacking about the prognostic significance of BNP levels in individuals without HF [1,2]. This retrospective analysis of electronic health record data therefore assessed the risk of all-cause death based on BNP levels and according to HF status.

The Vanderbilt University Medical Center Synthetic Derivative includes 2.5 million patient records spanning more than 20 years [3]. First, adult patients with plasma BNP concentration measurements were identified. Subsequently, the risk of death according to BNP levels was calculated in patients with and without HF. HF was identified using the International Classification of Diseases-9th Revision code before or at the time of BNP measurement. Death was confirmed through the Social Security Administration’s Death Master File linkage. The follow-up period was defined as the time elapsed from the date of BNP measurement to the date of death.

Main results


BNP is a strong predictor of death in patients with and without HF. The risk of death associated with elevated BNP levels is similar between patients with and those without HF. These data suggest that increased BNP values in patients without HF are important in clinical practice.

Editorial comment

In their editorial article, Vodovar and Logeart [4] note that in the study of York et al, HF was identified based on the International Classification of Diseases-9th Revision code before or at the time of BNP measurement, ‘a feature that limited the detection of patients with cardiac dysfunction but without HF.’ Moreover, they point out that BNP measurements were probably done when HF or other cardiovascular disease was suspected, and they discuss the probable reasons for BNP elevation in patients without HF, including asymptomatic cardiac disease, or poor cardiac reserve in non-cardiac diseases.

The authors end with: ‘In conclusion, the study by York et al. confirms that the BNP level is a powerful predictive tool and raises an important question about what to do for patients with an elevated BNP level in the absence of overt HF. York et al. should be commended for their work that will hopefully open the way for numerous studies on this topic to help define standard management for these patients.’


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