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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.

Preparing for the Test
Depending on the type of cholesterol test, you may be required to fast for 9 to 12 hours before the test. This means avoiding all food and drinks except water. Fasting is usually required for a lipid panel, which measures LDL and HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Inform your healthcare provider about any medications you are currently taking, including over-the-counter medications and supplements, as they can affect your test results.
Avoid alcohol consumption for at least 24 hours before the test, as alcohol can raise triglyceride levels.
Avoid heavy exercise for 24 hours before the test, as this can also affect cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Avoid smoking or using any nicotine products for at least 30 minutes before the test, as they can temporarily increase cholesterol levels.
Follow instructions
Follow any specific instructions provided by your healthcare provider, such as the time of day to take the test or any dietary restrictions.
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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