Clinical uses of brain natriuretic peptide in diagnosing and managing heart failure

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To review current issues in the diagnosis, prognosis, and management of heart failure (HF), focusing on the clinical use of brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) as a diagnostic marker.

Data sources

Selective review of scientific literature and clinical practice guidelines.


BNP is a useful clinical tool for the diagnosis, prognosis, and management of HF patients. Studies have consistently demonstrated high sensitivity, specificity, and negative predictive value of BNP levels in diagnostic situations. BNP cannot differentiate between systolic and diastolic HF.

Implications for practice

BNP can be used to assist in diagnosing HF in emergency and outpatient situations, particularly when the presenting symptom is dyspnea; determining HF prognosis, including predicting death and cardiac events; and potentially managing individuals with HF by determining safe discharge levels from acute care to avoid readmissions. BNP levels can vary depending on multiple confounders; therefore, clinical interpretation can be difficult.

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