Novel markers for heart failure diagnosis and prognosis

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Purpose of review

This paper reviews recent advances in heart failure biomarkers for identification of disease precursors, subclinical disease, and onset or progression of overt disease.

Recent findings

Heart failure biomarkers can be categorized empirically as neurohormonal mediators, markers of myocyte injury and remodeling, and indicators of systemic inflammation. Brain natriuretic peptide is the most widely studied, with a potentially important but evolving role for determining prognosis and as a surrogate endpoint in clinical trials. Strong evidence exists for use of brain natriuretic peptide in the diagnosis of acute heart failure and for improved clinical outcomes with a brain natriuretic peptide-guided approach to heart failure care. The use of brain natriuretic peptide as a screening tool for asymptomatic left ventricular systolic dysfunction, or to distinguish systolic from diastolic heart failure, is not supported by current data. Markers of myocyte injury, including troponins, heart-type fatty acid binding protein, and myosin light chain-1, may further improve heart failure prognostication in conjunction with plasma brain natriuretic peptide. Biomarkers of matrix remodeling and inflammation have emerged as potential preclinical indicators to identify individuals at risk of developing clinical heart failure. A role for cellular adhesion molecules may also emerge in identifying those at risk for cardiovascular thrombotic complications, such as stroke.


The spectrum of heart failure biomarkers and their potential clinical applications continues to grow. Ongoing research on multimarker strategies will likely identify biomarker combinations that are optimal at various stages during the evolution of heart failure, ranging from their use for screening, diagnosis, determining prognosis, and guiding management.

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