GPs should offer BNP level testing

GPs should test for elevated plasma B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) levels to identify those most at-risk of heart failure and cut mortality risk by swapping medications, UK researchers have suggested.

Currently, BNP tests are performed in hospitals but this research suggests that the tests could be adopted by GPs.

For the study, 759 over-65s with diabetes or IHD were selected from 12 general practices.

All had 4ml venous blood samples collected to allow BNP to be measured.

Ten per cent had elevated BNP levels - above 43.3pmol/l - and were offered treatment to help lower their BNP levels.

Switching from beta-blockers to carvedilol or bisoprolol was found to be most effective treatment.

BJGP 2008; 393-9

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