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Heart Attack Tests - BNP

What is BNP?

B-type natriuretic peptides (BNP) or N-terminal proBNP (NT-BNP) are proteins that are released into the bloodstream when the heart does not work properly. They are relatively new markers that are used for diagnosing or ruling out heart failure.

Who might have the test?

BNP tests are useful for diagnosing or ruling out heart failure in patients with shortness of breath. Ongoing research also suggests that BNP testing may predict your risk of future heart problems, but it is not widely used for this purpose.

What does the test entail?

A blood sample is taken from a vein in your arm. In some hospitals, a bedside or point-of-care test is available that requires only a finger prick and a few drops of blood. The blood is placed on a strip and positive results are available almost immediately if BNP is present in an elevated amount. It takes about 15 minutes to ensure a negative result. The test takes less than a minute.

What do the results mean?

Levels of 100 picograms per ml (pg/ml) or higher are a sign of heart failure. BNP tests are also used to assess the effectiveness of heart failure therapy. Higher BNP levels may mean you have a higher risk for future heart problems.

What are the limitations of this test?

BNP levels fall in most patients taking heart failure medications, such as ACE inhibitors, beta blockers, and diuretics. The BNP test is relatively new and is not as widely available as the other blood tests (CKMB, troponin, myoglobin).


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