Findings from the study were presented here today at the American College of Cardiology 51st Annual Scientific Session.
"This is extremely novel and exciting. There has never been a blood test for congestive heart failure before," said lead investigator Alan Maisel, M.D., director of the Coronary Care Unit at the Veteran Affairs (VA) San Diego Health Care System and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego.
The Triage BNP Test, developed by San Diego-based Biosite, Inc., detects elevated levels in the blood of a hormone called B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP). The hormone is released by the heart ventricles when pressure rises, signaling a failing heart. The test proved effective in a pilot study by Dr.
Maisel two years ago and is already in use in more than 300 hospitals in the United States.
Congestive heart failure (CHF) occurs when the heart can't pump enough blood to supply the rest of the body. A key symptom is shortness of breath. The condition is different from heart attack, where the blood supply to the heart itself is restricted. CHF affects some 4.6 million Americans, with about 40,000 new cases each year. People with CHF can be treated through medication and lifestyle changes, but the five-year survival rate is only about 50 percent.
When patients arrive at the emergency room with shortness of breath, doctors must first determine the cause before they can prescribe effective treatment. Before the BNP test, they had to waitsometimes up to hoursfor the results of various clinical tests. Dr. Maisel said that with the BNP test, "With two drops of blood you get results in 15 minute
Contact: Cynthia Butler
VA Research Communications Service