Plasma NT-proBNP levels and the risk of atrial fibrillation after major lung resection

Minerva Cardioangiol. 2008 Dec;56(6):581-5.


Aim: Supraventricular tachyarrhythmias, most frequently atrial fibrillation (AF), occur in 8-30% of patients undergoing major pulmonary resection. The aim of this study was to characterize a biochemical marker in order to identify subjects at higher risk of postoperative AF. The authors tested the hypothesis that elevated preoperative plasma levels of N-terminal brain-type natriuretic peptide (NT-pro-BNP) may predict the occurrence of postoperative AF.

Methods: Fifty-five consecutive patients undergoing elective major thoracic surgery were selected. All patients had 12-lead electrocardiogram and transthoracic echocardiographic evaluation at entry. Plasma NT-pro BNP levels were determined both at baseline and at the first postoperative day. Patients were monitored thereafter to detect the occurrence of AF. For statistical analysis, an unpaired Student t test was used to compare continuous variables, chi(2) tests or Fischer exact tests were used for categorical variables, as needed.

Results: Eight (14.54%) of the 55 patients developed AF with a peak incidence on postoperative days 2 to 3. Baseline NT-pro-BNP was more than two fold higher in patients who developed AF (506.1+/-108.4 pg/mL versus 197.7+/-54.9 pg/mL; P=0.001). Other relevant clinical and diagnostic parameters were not different in the two groups. Patients with NT-pro-BNP level above the median (113.0 pg/mL) had 8-fold increase risk of postoperative AF.

Conclusion: A preoperative elevated plasma NT-pro-BNP level was associated with the occurrence of AF in patient undergoing major thoracic surgery. Baseline NT-pro-BNP levels may be proposed as a biochemical marker to detect patients at higher risk of postoperative AF who could benefit from prophylactic therapeutic medication.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atrial Fibrillation / blood*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain / blood*
  • Peptide Fragments / blood*
  • Pneumonectomy / adverse effects*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Peptide Fragments
  • pro-brain natriuretic peptide (1-76)
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain