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The Brain Natriuretic Peptide (BNP) and N-terminal pro b-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) tests measure the levels of specific proteins produced by the heart and blood vessels. These tests are instrumental in diagnosing congestive heart failure and other related health conditions.

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Purpose of the test

The primary objective of BNP and NT-proBNP testing is to determine if the blood levels of these proteins fall within the expected range for a healthy individual. These tests are predominantly used for diagnostic purposes, especially to ascertain if a patient has heart failure. Heart failure signifies that the heart isn't pumping blood efficiently, but it doesn't mean the heart has ceased functioning. The tests help differentiate if the symptoms like swelling and shortness of breath are due to heart failure or another condition.

Who Should Get Tested

Doctors may recommend a BNP or NT-proBNP test for individuals exhibiting symptoms of heart failure, such as shortness of breath, swelling of legs, ankles, or abdomen, and fatigue. Shortness of breath is a common symptom among those with congestive heart failure, but it can also be indicative of other conditions like lung, kidney, and liver diseases. Thus, if someone has unexplained shortness of breath, a BNP or NT-proBNP test might be ordered.

Blood Test Preparation Guidelines
Time of day
It is recommended to schedule your appointment for blood tests in the morning hours between 7:00-10:00.
It is recommended to fast for approximately 12 hours before blood sampling. The last meal of the previous day should ideally be consumed around 6:00 p.m. On the day before the test, avoid heavy and fatty meals as well as alcohol.
Stay hydrated
Drinking water prior to testing can help with sample collection.
Other factors
Tests should not be performed after a sleepless night or intense physical activity. It is recommended to avoid exercise and stress immediately before blood collection and to not smoke. A short rest is recommended.
Medications and supplements:
Blood samples should be collected before the morning dose. Some drugs can interfere with test results. Consult with your doctor whether you can delay your dose because of lab tests.
Biotin supplements:
High doses of biotin supplements can affect test results, causing false elevation or reduction. It's recommended to avoid taking biotin for at least 72 hours before blood collection. If you are taking biotin, inform the personnel collecting the blood so that they can provide specific instructions.
Interpreting Test Results

BNP or NT-proBNP test results are typically measured in picograms per milliliter (pg/mL), but some labs might use other units like nanograms per liter (ng/L) or picomoles per liter (pmol/L). The report will include the patient's measured level and a reference range representing expected levels in a healthy adult. People with congestive heart failure often have BNP levels greater than 100 pg/mL. However, a BNP level below 100 pg/mL doesn't necessarily rule out heart failure, and a level above 100 pg/mL alone isn't sufficient for a diagnosis. It's crucial to discuss the results with a healthcare provider for a comprehensive understanding and interpretation.

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