N-terminal pro–B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) testing is useful for diagnosing acute decompensated heart failure. Whether NT-proBNP can be used to detect ventricular dysfunction in patients with stable coronary heart disease (CHD) and no history of heart failure is unknown.
We measured NT-proBNP levels and performed transthoracic echocardiography in 815 participants from the Heart and Soul Study, who had stable CHD and no history of heart failure. We hypothesized that NT-proBNP concentrations lower than 100 pg/mL would rule out ventricular dysfunction and concentrations higher than 500 pg/mL would identify ventricular dysfunction. We calculated sensitivities, specificities, likelihood ratios, and areas under the receiver operating characteristic curves for NT-proBNP as a case-finding instrument for systolic and diastolic dysfunction.
Of the 815 participants with no history of heart failure, 68 (8%) had systolic dysfunction defined as a left ventricular ejection fraction of 50% or lower. Of the 730 participants for whom the presence or absence of diastolic dysfunction could be determined, 78 (11%) had diastolic dysfunction defined as a pseudonormal or restrictive filling pattern. The overall area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for detecting systolic or diastolic dysfunction was 0.78 (95% confidence interval, 0.74-0.82). Likelihood ratios were 0.28 for NT-proBNP concentrations lower than 100 pg/mL, 0.95 for concentrations between 100 and 500 pg/mL, and 4.1 for concentrations higher than 500 pg/mL. A test result lower than 100 pg/mL reduced the probability of ventricular dysfunction from a pretest probability of 18% to a posttest probability of 6%. A test result higher than 500 pg/mL increased the probability of ventricular dysfunction from a pretest probability of 18% to a posttest probability of 47%. A test result between 100 and 500 pg/mL did not change the probability of ventricular dysfunction.
In patients with stable CHD and no history of heart failure, NT-proBNP levels lower than 100 pg/mL effectively rule out ventricular dysfunction, with a negative likelihood ratio of 0.28.