Brain natriuretic peptide (BNP), a peptide hormone secreted chiefly by ventricular myocytes, plays a key role in volume homeostasis. The plasma concentration of BNP is raised in various pathological states, especially heart failure. Many studies suggest that measurement of plasma BNP has clinical utility for excluding a diagnosis of heart failure in patients with dyspnea or fluid retention and for providing prognostic information in those with heart failure or other cardiac disease. It may also be of value in identifying patients after myocardial infarction in whom further assessment of cardiac function is likely to be worthwhile. Preliminary evidence suggests that measuring the plasma concentration of BNP may be useful in fine tuning therapy for heart failure. Artificially raising the circulating levels of BNP shows considerable promise as a treatment for heart failure. With simpler assay methods now available, it is likely that many physicians will measure plasma BNP to aid them in the diagnosis, risk stratification, and monitoring of their patients with heart failure or other cardiac dysfunction.
Copyright 2002, Elsevier Science.