Brain Natriuretic Peptide in the Evaluation of Emergency Department Dyspnea: Is There a Role?
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BACKGROUND: Acute decompensated congestive heart failure (ADCHF) is a common etiology of dyspnea in emergency department (ED) patients. Delayed diagnosis of ADCHF increases morbidity and mortality. Two cardiac biomarkers, N-terminal-pro brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) and brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) have demonstrated excellent sensitivity in diagnostic accuracy studies, but the clinical impact on patient-oriented outcomes of these tests remains in question. CLINICAL QUESTION: Does emergency physician awareness of BNP or NT-proBNP level improve ADCHF patient-important outcomes including ED length of stay, hospital length of stay, cardiovascular mortality, or overall health care costs? EVIDENCE REVIEW: Five trials have randomized clinicians to either knowledge of or no knowledge of ADCHF biomarker levels in ED patients with dyspnea and some suspicion for heart failure. In assessing patient-oriented outcomes such as length-of-stay, return visits, and overall health care costs, the randomized controlled trials fail to provide evidence of unequivocal benefit to patients, clinicians, or society. CONCLUSION: Clinician awareness of BNP or NT-proBNP levels in ED dyspnea patients does not necessarily improve outcomes. Future ADCHF biomarker trials must assess patient-oriented outcomes in conjunction with validated risk-stratification instruments.
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