Usefulness of B-type natriuretic peptide in hypertensive patients with exertional dyspnea and normal left ventricular ejection fraction and correlation with new echocardiographic indexes of systolic and diastolic function
B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) levels increase in systolic heart failure (HF). However, the value of BNP in hypertensive patients with suspected diastolic HF (symptoms suggestive of HF but normal ejection fraction) and its relation to myocardial function in these patients is unclear. We prospectively studied 72 ambulatory hypertensive subjects (40 women, mean age 58 +/- 8 years) with exertional dyspnea and ejection fraction > or =50%. Diastolic function was evaluated with transmitral and pulmonary venous Doppler, mitral annular velocities (pulsed-wave tissue Doppler), and flow propagation velocity (color M-mode). Systolic function was assessed with strain and strain rate derived from color tissue Doppler imaging. BNP was related to myocardial function and the presence or absence of global diastolic dysfunction. By conventional Doppler criteria, 34 patients had normal left ventricular diastolic function and 38 had isolated diastolic dysfunction. BNP values were higher in patients with diastolic dysfunction (46 +/- 48 vs 20 +/- 20 pg/ml, p=0.004) and were related independently to blood pressure, systolic strain rate, left atrial function (p<0.01 for all), and age (p=0.015). Patients with diastolic dysfunction and pseudonormal filling had higher BNP levels compared with impaired relaxation (89 +/- 47 vs 35 +/- 42 pg/ml, p=0.001). However, 79% of patients with diastolic dysfunction had BNP levels within the normal range. We conclude that in ambulatory hypertensive patients with symptoms suggestive of mild HF and normal ejection fraction, BNP is related to atrial and ventricular systolic parameters, blood pressure, and age. Although elevated in the presence of diastolic dysfunction, the BNP level mostly is in the normal range and, therefore, has limited diagnostic value in stable patients with suspected diastolic HF.