N-terminal pro B-type natriuretic peptide in systematic screening for atrial fibrillation

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ObjectiveScreening for atrial fibrillation (AF) in individuals aged 65 and above is recommended by the European Society of Cardiology. Increased levels of the biomarker N-terminal pro B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) has in cohort studies been associated with incident AF.The aim of this study was to assess whether NT-proBNP could be useful for AF detection in systematic screening.MethodsThe Strokestop study entailed 7173 Swedish residents aged 75/76 that were screened for AF using twice daily intermittent ECG recordings during 2 weeks. In a substudy of 886 participants, the last 815 consecutive participants and 71 individuals with newly detected AF, levels of NT-proBNP were determined.ResultsParticipants with newly detected AF (n=96) had a median NT-proBNP of 330 ng/L (IQR 121;634). In individuals without AF (n=742), median NT-proBNP was 171 ng/L (IQR 95;283), p<0.001. The CHA2DS2-VASc parameters did not differ significantly between individuals with newly detected AF and without AF nor between newly detected AF in the NT-proBNP cohort compared with the cohort where NT-proBNP was not assessed. Using an NT-proBNP cut-off of ≥125 ng/L in a non-acute setting yielded a negative predictive value of 92%, meaning that 35% fewer participants would need to be screened when applied to systematic AF screening. Adding weight to NT-proBNP further reduced participants needed to be screened with a preserved sensitivity.ConclusionsNT-proBNP was increased in individuals with newly detected AF. Prospective studies could clarify if NT-proBNP can be used to correctly select individuals that benefit most from AF screening.Clinical trialsClinicalTrials.gov. Identifier: NCT01593553.

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