The heart sends out a hormone warning that trouble is on the way, and there is a simple test for that hormone that can help doctors detect and treat troubled hearts before they fail. Researchers followed more than 300 patients who went to the emergency room for shortness of breath. Doctors tested for a hormone called BNP, that's secreted by the heart's ventricles when they are under pressure.
The study found patients with BNP levels that were four times higher than normal had a 51% chance of being admitted to the hospital with Congestive Heart Failure, or even dying within six months. The study at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Diego suggests that BNP testing could be an important tool in diagnosing patients at risk of heart failure. The BNP hormone test is FDA approved.
Researchers say the findings support the widespread use of the test as a tool to predict heart failure. About 4.7 million people in the United States have congestive heart failure, and 550,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Congestive Heart Failure is the most frequent cause of hospitalization in the elderly, with 900,000 hospitalizations, and 250,000 deaths each year.
The study was conducted by Alan Maisel, M.D., of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Diego, California. The study is published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.