Natriuretic peptides are helpful in detecting chronic heart failure (HF) in primary care; however, there are a lack of data evaluating thresholds recommended by clinical guidelines. This study assesses the diagnostic accuracy of N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) using combined individual patient data from two studies in the UK and the Netherlands.
Random effects methods were used to estimate the performance characteristics of NT-proBNP thresholds recommended by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) and the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines. New onset HF was diagnosed in 313 of 1073 (29.2%) participants. Age, sex, and atrial fibrillation-adjusted NT-proBNP was a better predictor of HF with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) than HF preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), with area under receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.82 95% CI (0.78 to 0.86) vs. 0.71 (0.66 to 0.75). In persons aged 70 years and over, the ESC threshold at 125 ng/L for detection of all-cause HF had summary negative predictive value (NPV) of 84.9% (81.6 to 88.2), positive predictive value (PPV) 68.1% (63.1 to 73.3), sensitivity 74.9% (69.5 to 80.3), and specificity 80.1% (76.9 to 83.4); the NICE threshold at 400 ng/L had summary NPV of 74.7% (72.1 to 77.2), PPV 81.8% (73.3 to 89.5), sensitivity 43.5% (37.2 to 49.8), and specificity 94.5% (92.3 to 96.7).
N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide is better at detecting HFrEF than HFpEF in a primary care setting. In persons aged 70 and over, the ESC threshold of 125 ng/L is more accurate at detecting and excluding HF than the higher level suggested in NICE guidelines. More prospective data are required to establish the optimal NP threshold for detecting chronic HF in general practice.

© 2021 The Authors. ESC Heart Failure published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Society of Cardiology.