Blood test may predict readmission risk for heart failure patients

An inexpensive blood test may be able to predict that likelihood that a patient with congestive heart failure will be readmitted to the hospital or die, according to a study in the American Journal of Cardiology. 

The study examined levels of N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), a protein that indicates heart stress, in patients with congestive heart failure.  Researchers found that patients whose NT-proBNP levels decreased by less than 50% during their hospital stay were 57% more likely to be readmitted or die within 12 months than those who had a larger gap. 

The study concludes that patients with a <50% reduction in NT-proBNP might benefit from more intensive medical treatment, monitoring, and follow-up. 

(Sources: The American Journal of Cardiology, http://www.ajconline.org, February, 2010; The Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://advisory.com, March 7, 2010)