Respiratory

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Assessing Acute Dyspnea: Role of B-Type Natriuretic Peptide

KEY POINT

B-type natriuretic peptide is increasingly recognized as an important biomarker for some diseases that otherwise might go undetected for years or, when symptoms develop, require invasive tests for diagnosis. But the peptide is not specific; just as smoke can tell you that there’s fire but not provide exact information on why the fire started, elevated serum B-type natriuretic peptide levels should not be used in the place of careful clinical reasoning. Concentrations of this marker have been shown to be helpful in aiding physicians on how to treat dyspnea associated with heart failure. In addition, B-type natriuretic peptide levels may be useful for predicting risk of coronary events or death in asymptomatic patients.

SOURCES

Mueller C et al. Use of B-type natriuretic peptide in the evaluation and management of acute dyspnea. N Engl J Med. 2004;350:647–54.

Wang TJ et al. Plasma natriuretic peptide levels and the risk of cardiovascular events and death. N Engl J Med. 2004;350:655–63.

Mark DB, Felker GM. B-type natriuretic peptide—a biomarker for all seasons [editorial]? N Engl J Med. 2004;350:718–20.