Each year, three to five million people go to the emergency room experiencing shortness of breath. Then the doctor has to figure out. Is it congestive heart failure, emphysema, asthma, or some other problem? Here's what's new, a blood test just approved by the FDA to help doctors diagnosis heart failure faster.
It's called the B-Type Natriuretic Peptide Test or BNP. Patients have an elevated level of BNP in the blood stream when they are experiencing congestive heart failure. "This is a bedside test, so the nurse can draw blood when she starts the IV and get the test started immediately. We can test results back, even before we get chest X-rays back," says Dr. Warren Yamerick, an emergency room physician.
That means treatment can begin much faster. The FDA has also recently approved its first new treatment medication for congestive heart failure in a decade. That is a drug called Natrecor. Dr. Warren Yamerick is an emergency physician at Riverside Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. That hospital is the first in the country to use the BNP in its emergency room.