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VA research in action
Biomarker to diagnose heart failure
October 4, 2019
Clinicians have a useful tool to quickly and easily test for heart failure thanks to VA researcher Dr. Alan Maisel and his colleagues at the VA San Diego Healthcare System and the University of California, San Diego. In the early 2000s, Maisel’s team developed and promoted the use of the biomarker B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) as an indicator of heart failure. Levels of the biomarker can be assessed with an easy blood test using immunoassay.
Today, the BNP test is used around the world to diagnose heart failure.
In congestive heart failure, the heart does not pump strongly enough to provide enough blood flow to the body. BNP is a hormone secreted by heart muscle cells. When the heart muscles are under stress from heart failure, BNP secretion increases. Therefore, elevated levels of BNP in the blood can be a sign of heart failure.
While no one test can reveal heart failure with 100% accuracy, BNP is considered a gold standard biomarker for the condition. Maisel and his team continue working to refine the BNP test and to identify other biomarkers useful in evaluating cardiac health.
Principal investigator: Dr. Alan Maisel, VA San Diego Healthcare System, University of California, San Diego
An update on the use and discovery of prognostic biomarkers in acute decompensated heart failure. Darden D, Nishimura M, Sharim J, Maisel A. Expert Rev Mol Diagn. 2019 Sep 27:1-11.
Identifying heart failure when minutes count. LaFee S. UC San Diego Health Newsroom. 2013 Jan. 20.
Rapid measurement of B-type natriuretic peptide in the emergency diagnosis of heart failure. Maisel AS, Krishnaswamy P, Nowak RM, McCord J, Hollander JE, Duc P, Omland T, Storrow AB, Abraham WT, Wu AH, Clopton P, Steg PG, Westheim A, Knudsen CW, Perez A, Kazanegra R, Herrmann HC, McCullough PA. N Engl J Med. 2002 Jul 18;347(3):161-7.
B-type natriuretic peptide levels: diagnostic and therapeutic potential. Maisel A. Cardiovasc Toxicol. 2001;1(2):159-64.