New Blood Test Can Identify Heart Failure
A new blood test that measures a protein involved in cardiac distress is proving an "extremely accurate" way to identify congestive heart failure in emergency room patients, doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital say.
The protein, NT-proBNP, is among a class of body chemicals called natriuretic peptides that are produced when cardiac muscle is under stress, the researchers said in a statement. The test was evaluated among 600 patients who came to the hospital complaining of shortness of breath, a tell-tale sign of heart failure.
Heart failure can be difficult to diagnose, since its symptoms mimic those of other diseases and conditions, the researchers said. They found that the protein's concentrations were significantly higher in patients eventually diagnosed with heart failure, and highest in patients with the most severe symptoms.
"We believe NT-proBNP testing should now become a routine component of evaluation for patients with shortness of breath in emergency department settings," said Dr. James Januzzi Jr., the study's lead author. Results of the research will be published in the April 15 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology and have been released early on the journal's Web site.
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