Natriuretic Peptide Tests (BNP, NT-proBNP)

What is Natriuretic Peptide Testing?

Natriuretic peptide testing is a laboratory test that is used to measure the levels of certain hormones in the blood, as an indicator of how well your heart is functioning. The tests are often used to help diagnose and monitor cardiac disorders, although the hormones can also be associated with some other diseases as well. The hormones tested for are called B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) and N-terminal pro-BNP (NT-proBNP).

What are BNP and NT-proBNP?

BNP and NT-proBNP are hormones produced by the heart. They are secreted in response to stretching and enlargement of the heart muscle, a condition known as ventricular wall stress, usually caused by high blood pressure or weakening of the heart muscle due to heart failure. Elevated levels of BNP or NT-proBNP can be an indicator of ventricular wall stress, and are used to diagnose and monitor patients with cardiac disease.

How is Natriuretic Peptide Testing Performed?

The natriuretic peptide test is performed using a small sample of blood, usually taken from a vein in the arm. The sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis, and results can usually be obtained within one to two days. The results will give an indication of the level of BNP or NT-ProBNP present, usually indicated as a number.

Types of Natriuretic Peptide Tests

  • Cardiac BNP - Measuring BNP levels only.
  • NT-proBNP - A more sensitive test that measures both BNP and NT-ProBNP together.

Preparation for Natriuretic Peptide Testing

For most patients, no preparation is typically required for natriuretic peptide testing. However, it is important to inform your healthcare provider of any medications or supplements that you are taking, as certain medications may affect BNP or NT-ProBNP levels. In addition, you should also inform your healthcare provider of any recent illnesses or changes in your health, as this may also affect the results of the test.

Risks of Natriuretic Peptide Testing

The risks associated with natriuretic peptide testing are minimal. The laboratory may use needles to draw blood, which may cause some mild discomfort or bleeding. In some cases, there may also be an allergic reaction to any medications used during the test.

Why is Natriuretic Peptide Testing Performed?

Natriuretic peptide testing is typically performed to help diagnose and monitor cardiac disorders, such as high blood pressure, heart failure, and coronary artery disease. The hormones are also used to determine if a patient is at risk of developing further cardiac problems, or if their current treatment is effective in controlling their condition.

When is Natriuretic Peptide Testing Performed?

Natriuretic peptide testing is typically performed in two situations: when a patient is first presenting with symptoms of a heart condition and when a patient is experiencing a flare-up of their cardiac disorder. The test may also be performed periodically as part of an overall monitoring plan for cardiac patients.