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Biomarker May Benefit Risk Stratification in Older Adults

Those with highest levels had greater risk of heart failure and cardiovascular mortality

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Higher levels of N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) are associated with the development of heart failure, as well as cardiovascular death, in older adults, according to research published in the Feb. 2 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Christopher R. deFilippi, M.D., of the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and colleagues analyzed data from 2,975 adults (mean age, 72.7 years) who were free of heart failure at study entry. Participants underwent testing of NT-proBNP at baseline and two to three years later. The primary outcomes were incident heart failure and cardiovascular death.

The researchers found that having NT-proBNP levels in the highest quintile (greater than 267.7 pg/mL) was associated with an increased risk of heart failure and cardiovascular death (hazard ratios, 3.05 and 3.02, respectively) compared to the lowest quintile. The authors further note that NT-proBNP levels often changed substantially during this period, and increases were associated with increased risk of heart failure and cardiovascular death compared with unchanged levels.

"Should we now advocate serial NT-proBNP testing of elderly subjects in the community to improve screening and risk stratification for heart failure? The current study suggests that there may be a benefit from such a strategy, but leaves some questions unanswered. Its findings should encourage further research into the role of serial risk assessment for heart failure using biomarkers," write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

The study was supported by Roche Diagnostics. Several co-authors reported financial relationships with Roche and other companies, and an editorial co-author reported receiving honoraria from Roche Diagnostics.

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