Cardiovascular biomarkers in the ICU

Curr Opin Crit Care. 2009 Oct;15(5):377-83. doi: 10.1097/MCC.0b013e32832e9705.


Purpose of review: Natriuretic peptides are markers of heart failure and/or cardiac dysfunction that provide useful diagnostic and prognostic information in patients with dyspnea and/or respiratory failure in the emergency department. Cardiac troponins (cTn) have markedly simplified the diagnosis of myocardial infarction. In critically ill patients, conditions like coexisting organ dysfunction multiorgan involvement or altered synthesis/clearance may confound interpretation of designated biomarkers, including natriuretic peptides and cTn. This review focuses on recently published articles relating to the use of natriuretic peptides and cTn in critically ill patients.

Recent findings: One new study addresses diagnostic utility of B-type natriuretic peptide to distinguish low-pressure pulmonary edema (acute lung injury/acute respiratory distress syndrome) from high-pressure (cardiogenic) pulmonary edema. Other studies highlight the prognostic value of natriuretic peptides either in unselected and general noncardiac ICU patients and reveal an important reason for elevated B-type natriuretic peptide levels in septic shock.Interesting data focusing on diagnostic and prognostic ability of systematic cTn screening measurements in ICU patients became available.

Summary: Recent studies confirm the excellent prognostic value of natriuretic peptide measurements in ICU patients. Diagnostic properties of natriuretic peptide in ICU patients still remain ambiguous and require further evaluation. Systematic screening with cTn reveals more myocardial infarctions and provides important prognostic information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Critical Illness
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Myocardial Infarction / blood
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnosis
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain / blood
  • Natriuretic Peptides / blood*
  • Prognosis
  • Pulmonary Edema / blood
  • Pulmonary Edema / diagnosis
  • Shock, Septic / blood
  • Shock, Septic / diagnosis
  • Troponin T / blood*


  • Biomarkers
  • Natriuretic Peptides
  • Troponin T
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain