A potential new biomarker for heart failure may be more powerful than established measures in identifying patients at increased risk for death from several causes. In a report to appear in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that has received early online release, an international research team describes finding that blood levels of a protein called ST2 both indicate the presence of heart failure among patient with shortness of breath and powerfully predict the risk that a patient will die during the following year. Improved understanding of how ST2 and other biomarkers reflect aspects of the hearts hormonal environment someday may allow clinicians to develop more effective, individualized treatment plans.
While we are now able to diagnose heart failure with great sensitivity using natriuretic peptide tests, we have miles to go before we can reduce the considerable risk that accompanies that diagnosis, says James Januzzi Jr., MD, of the MGH Cardiology Division, who led the study. Its highly likely that examining a patients pattern of several complementary biomarkers will be superior for predicting risk than using just one. If we could harness the information these biomarkers yield to better adjust therapies in the same way that antibiotics are chosen based on the organism causing the infection that would be revolutionary.
A condition in which the heart muscle is damaged and cannot pump blood efficiently, heart failure is a major cause of cardiac death. Diagnosis has been a challenge, since the symptoms of heart failure are similar to those of many other conditions. In recent years studies from several groups, including collaborators on the current report, have identified a number of candidate biomarkers for diagnosis. In 2005, Januzzi and colleagues from the MGH published the PRIDE study, which showed that a protein called NT-proBNP, one of the natriuretic peptides, could confirm or rule out a diagnosis of heart failure
Contact: Sue McGreevey
Massachusetts General Hospital