Purpose of review: This review focuses on recent literature pertaining to the role of B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) in heart failure.
Recent findings: Heart failure is a common disorder that is associated with significant mortality and morbidity. The diagnosis of heart failure may at times be difficult when using conventional tools. The cardiac natriuretic peptides, particularly BNP, have evolved to be useful biomarkers in heart failure and other cardiovascular disorders. Recent studies have established a close association between plasma BNP and the amino-terminal fragment of the BNP prohormone (NT-proBNP) with the diagnosis of heart failure and independent prediction of mortality and heart failure events. Furthermore, preliminary data from randomized controlled trials suggest that knowledge of BNP and/or NT-proBNP level may optimize the management of patients with heart failure. Exogenous natriuretic peptide in the form of recombinant human BNP (nesiritide) has been shown to improve hemodynamics and dyspnea and is approved in the USA and several other countries for the management of patients with acute decompensated heart failure. The effect of nesiritide on clinical outcome, however, remains unclear.
Summary: When used in the appropriate clinical settings, BNP or NT-proBNP testing is extremely useful in establishing diagnosis and predicting prognosis in heart failure. Nesiritide holds promise in the management of patients with acute decompensated heart failure. Large-scale randomized controlled trials to evaluate BNP/NT-proBNP-guided therapy are currently in progress and studies of the impact of exogenous BNP on clinical outcomes in heart failure are likely to be forthcoming.