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International multi-center study confirms value of blood test to diagnose heart failure

A large-scale international study has demonstrated the usefulness of a blood test to confirm or exclude the diagnosis of acute heart failure in emergency room patients and shows that the test also can identify patients at a higher risk for death. The report from investigators in the U.S., the Netherlands, Spain and New Zealand also clarifies the importance of age-specific levels of a protein called NT-proBNP that definitively diagnose heart failure. The report will appear in the European Heart Journal and is receiving early online release.

"In an analysis of patients from several parts of the world, we showed that this test is greatly valuable in the diagnosis and prognosis of patients with both systolic and diastolic heart failure," says James Januzzi Jr., MD, of the MGH Cardiology Division, the paper's co-lead author. "It's a single blood test that can provide multiple pieces of important information."

Congestive heart failure, which occurs when an impaired heart muscle cannot pump blood efficiently, is a growing health problem and major cause of cardiac death. The diagnosis of heart failure may be challenging because its symptoms can overlap those of other conditions. Earlier this year Januzzi and colleagues from the MGH published the PRIDE study, the first prospective American trial measuring NT-proBNP in patients coming to a hospital emergency department with shortness of breath. Other research groups, including collaborators in the current study, have conducted single-site investigations supporting the usefulness of NT-proBNP for confirming a diagnosis of heart failure.

The International Collaborative of NT-proBNP (ICON) Study brought together data from the PRIDE study and similar information from the Christchurch Cardioendocrine Research Group in New Zealand and the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau in Barcelona, Spain, with previously unpublished information gathered by researchers from the University Hospital of Maastricht
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Contact: Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617-724-2764
Massachusetts General Hospital
17-Nov-2005


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