The role of natriuretic peptide testing in guiding chronic heart failure management: review of available data and recommendations for use.
The care of patients with heart failure can be challenging, with few objective tools available to assist in therapy decision-making. Natriuretic peptides are powerfully prognostic biomarkers in patients with heart failure and may represent an objective target for therapy. Accordingly, the use of biomarker-guided care with either B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) or amino-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) has been recently explored. Over the past few years, a number of studies with heterogeneous inclusion criteria, methods and results have been performed. We have reviewed the available literature, summarizing the results of biomarker-guided heart failure trials and deriving recommendations for optimal application of biomarker-guided heart failure care based on the experience gained. In general, positive studies had low BNP or NT-proBNP target concentrations (∼100 pg/mL and ∼1000 pg/mL, respectively) and achieved lower natriuretic peptide concentrations compared with standard care. Patients in the biomarker-guided arms of the studies typically received more aggressive heart failure care and had no excess adverse outcomes. In the recent ProBNP Outpatient Tailored Chronic Heart Failure Therapy (PROTECT) study, patients treated with biomarker-guided care also had improved quality of life and significantly better reverse remodeling on echocardiography compared with patients who received standard care. In conclusion, heart failure therapy guided by a goal to reduce natriuretic peptide concentrations below prognostically-meaningful levels results in more aggressive heart failure care, is well tolerated and is associated with superior outcomes.
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