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Test predicts risk of heart failure in older people

By Yvette Martyn

N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) can predict the risk of heart failure and cardiovascular death in the elderly, a US study concludes.

The study involved 2,975 community-dwelling older adults who were free of heart failure. Their NT-proBNP levels were measured at baseline then two to three years later.

The researchers found NT-proBNP was an independent predictor of the outcomes. Cases with the highest levels of the marker were more than three times more likely to develop heart failure and cardiovascular death than those with the lowest levels.

Changes in the level of NT-proBNP were also found to predict risk. Of cases who with an initially high level of NT-proBNP, a 25% increase was associated with a doubled risk of developing heart failure and 90% increase in the risk of cardiovascular death, compared with patients with unchanged levels. A 25% decrease in NT-proBNP appeared to decrease risk.

Dr Christopher deFilippi from, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said: ‘NT-proBNP levels may guide further diagnostic testing or potential preventative measures to reduce the risk of developing heart failure or dying of cardiovascular disease.'

J Am Coll Cardiol 2010;55:441-50