Background: Amino-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) testing is useful for diagnosis or exclusion of heart failure (HF) in dyspneic patients. Atrial fibrillation (AF) may cause dyspnea in the absence of acute HF and may also affect plasma levels of NT-proBNP. Methods: We prospectively enrolled 599 patients presenting with dyspnea to the emergency department and obtained a blood sample for NT-proBNP measurement. The diagnosis of AF was identified via presentation electrocardiogram. A final diagnosis of HF was determined by blinded study physicians using all available hospital records for each subject through 60 days of follow-up. We assessed the association between the presence of AF and level of NT-proBNP in subsets of patients with and without HF. Results: Of 599 dyspneic patients, 75 (13%) were in AF at presentation; these patients had significantly higher median NT-proBNP levels when compared with those without AF (2934 vs 294 pg/mL, P < .0001). Among patients with acute HF, AF was present in 28%; NT-proBNP levels were lower in those with AF versus those without (3488 vs 4492 pg/mL, P < .001), but AF was not independently associated with NT-proBNP after multivariable adjustment. In patients without acute HF, median NT-proBNP concentrations were significantly higher in those with AF than in those without (932 vs 121 pg/mL, P = .02); in these subjects, AF was the strongest predictor of an NT-proBNP concentration in a range consistent with acute HF (odds ratio 9.94, 95% CI 2.97-33.3, P < .001). Conclusion: Atrial fibrillation is associated with higher NT-proBNP concentrations in dyspneic patients, particularly in those without acute HF.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine