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May 22, 2006

The Value of BNP Testing

Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(10):1063-1064. doi:10.1001/archinte.166.10.1063

B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) is synthesized in ventricular myocardium and released into the circulation in response to increased wall stress.1,2 Levels of BNP can be measured rapidly using commercially available assays and have been evaluated for clinical value in a variety of settings. Recent research suggests that BNP levels can readily identify patients with heart failure and may be useful in the evaluation of patients with acute dyspnea, in screening for patients with left ventricular dysfunction, or in guiding management of patients with known heart failure. It is uncertain, however, whether measuring BNP affects clinical outcomes or whether the expense of the test is justified. In this editorial, we will briefly review principles of economic evaluation as applied to diagnostic tests, the evidence about BNP testing, and consider the cost-effectiveness of BNP testing in the assessment of patients with acute dyspnea.