Congestive heart failure, which occurs when an impaired heart muscle cannot pump blood efficiently, is a growing health problem and major cause of cardiac death. The diagnosis of heart failure may be challenging because its symptoms can overlap those of other conditions.
Now a large-scale international study has demonstrated the usefulness of a blood test to confirm or exclude the diagnosis of acute heart failure in emergency room patients and shows that the test also can identify patients at a higher risk for death. The report from investigators in the U.S., the Netherlands, Spain and New Zealand also clarifies the importance of age-specific levels of a protein called NT-proBNP that definitively diagnose heart failure. The report appeared in the European Heart Journal.
“In an analysis of patients from several parts of the world, we showed that this test is greatly valuable in the diagnosis and prognosis of patients with both systolic and diastolic heart failure,” says James Januzzi Jr., MD, of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cardiology Division, the paper’s co-lead author. “It’s a single blood test that can provide multiple pieces of important information.”