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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 04/22/02
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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New Test Provides Fast, Accurate Diagnosis of Heart Failure

Cincinnati--Alan Storrow, MD, associate professor and research director at the University of Cincinnati (UC) Department of Emergency Medicine, was the local principal investigator of a multi-national study that demonstrated the effectiveness of using a rapid B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) test as a predictor of congestive heart failure in millions of patients who arrive at emergency departments suffering from shortness of breath. Study results were recently presented at the American College of Cardiology annual scientific session. Investigators, using a 15-minute BNP Test from Biosite Incorporated, concluded that measurement of BNP levels in patients should be considered the quickest predictor in the diagnosis of congestive heart failure.

"In the study, BNP was also the single most accurate predictor of congestive heart failure," Dr. Storrow said. "These results demonstrate that rapid measurement of the BNP concentration in blood will improve the ability of clinicians to differentiate patients with congestive heart failure from other causes of shortness of breath in acute care settings. The use of a 15-minute, point-of-care test adds immediate and uniquely valuable diagnostic information to the acute care physician. This should lead to better initial therapies, which should lead to better outcomes."

Physicians face significant challenges in diagnosing congestive heart failure, especially in emergency departments. "Shortness of breath is a symptom that is common to a number of diseases. Critical time is spent trying to distinguish between non-cardiac and cardiac causes of this symptom," commented Brian Gibler, MD, professor and director of the UC Department of Emergency Medicine. "The availability of a rapid test that provides objective and conclusive means of differentiating congestive heart failure is an important diagnostic advancement that could prevent misdiagnosis, expedite appropriate care, reduce inappropriate drug delivery and improve overall efficiency in the emergency department management of patients."

The BNP study was a seven-center, prospective cohort study of 1,586 patients who came to emergency departments with acute shortness of breath. BNP levels in the patients were measured with the new test upon their arrival. For each patient enrolled in the study, emergency physicians, who were blinded to the results of BNP measurements, were asked to provide a diagnosis and a probability of congestive heart failure using traditional clinical diagnostic tools, such as physical examination, x-ray and patient history.

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