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BNP Tests Work as Congestive Heart Failure Screening Tool

B-type natriuretic peptide testing could help decrease need for echocardiograms

MONDAY, May 22 (HealthDay News) -- B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) testing could help physicians screen patients for congestive heart failure (CHF) and reduce the need for echocardiograms, according to a study published in the May 22 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Markus Battaglia, M.D., of the University of Berne, Switzerland, and colleagues analyzed data from 19 studies involving 9,093 patients. Nine sets of patients underwent rapid enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) tests and 13 sets of patients underwent standard radioimmunosorbent assay (RIA) tests.

The researchers found an overall negative risk of 0.18, with 0.12 for the ELISA test and 0.23 for the RIA test.

"The use of BNP tests to rule out CHF in primary care settings could reduce demand for echocardiography," the authors write. "The advantages of rapid ELISA tests need to be balanced against their higher cost."

In an accompanying editorial, Mark Hlatky, M.D., of the Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif., and colleague Paul Heidenreich, M.D., write that the higher cost can be offset by eliminating unnecessary tests and treatment, and that correctly interpreted BNP testing "can be very helpful in the evaluation of patients with acute dyspnea," and could lead to speedier diagnoses in patients who do not show signs of heart failure.

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