A hormone called brain natriuretic peptide can predict the presence of pulmonary hypertension in patients with complicated lung disease, according to a study appearing in the April issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.
Juergen Behr, M.D., of the Division of Pulmonary Diseases in the Department of internal medicine at Ludwig Maximillians University in Munich, Germany, and six associates calculated the levels of the BNP in 176 patients who had lung disease. These patients were also subjected to right heart catheterization, lung function testing, and a 6-minute walk test. "In the absence of significant left heart disease, BNP serves as a marker of an increased workload in the right heart originating from idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension," Dr. Behr said. BNP is a hormone found in the heart. Its level in the blood is usually on the lesser side, but rises if the heart has to work harder. In the current study, it was noted that 31 participants (18 percent) died of heart disease over the duration of 10 months. "Patients who died during the follow-up period more frequently had elevated BNP levels and prominent pulmonary hypertension with significantly impaired right heart function," Dr. Behr said. "Despite the mixed nature of the study population, our data allows an estimation of the prevalence of pulmonary hypertension in a 'real life' setting of patients with advanced lung disease, because all participants underwent right heart catheterization as the reference diagnostic tool."
Contact: Suzy Martin
American Thoracic Society