Objectives To determine and compare the diagnostic accuracy of serum natriuretic peptide levels (B type natriuretic peptide, N terminal probrain natriuretic peptide (NTproBNP), and mid-regional proatrial natriuretic peptide (MRproANP)) in people presenting with acute heart failure to acute care settings using thresholds recommended in the 2012 European Society of Cardiology guidelines for heart failure.
Design Systematic review and diagnostic meta-analysis.
Data sources Medline, Embase, Cochrane central register of controlled trials, Cochrane database of systematic reviews, database of abstracts of reviews of effects, NHS economic evaluation database, and Health Technology Assessment up to 28 January 2014, using combinations of subject headings and terms relating to heart failure and natriuretic peptides.
Eligibility criteria for selecting studies Eligible studies evaluated one or more natriuretic peptides (B type natriuretic peptide, NTproBNP, or MRproANP) in the diagnosis of acute heart failure against an acceptable reference standard in consecutive or randomly selected adults in an acute care setting. Studies were excluded if they did not present sufficient data to extract or calculate true positives, false positives, false negatives, and true negatives, or report age independent natriuretic peptide thresholds. Studies not available in English were also excluded.
Results 37 unique study cohorts described in 42 study reports were included, with a total of 48 test evaluations reporting 15 263 test results. At the lower recommended thresholds of 100 ng/L for B type natriuretic peptide and 300 ng/L for NTproBNP, the natriuretic peptides have sensitivities of 0.95 (95% confidence interval 0.93 to 0.96) and 0.99 (0.97 to 1.00) and negative predictive values of 0.94 (0.90 to 0.96) and 0.98 (0.89 to 1.0), respectively, for a diagnosis of acute heart failure. At the lower recommended threshold of 120 pmol/L, MRproANP has a sensitivity ranging from 0.95 (range 0.90-0.98) to 0.97 (0.95-0.98) and a negative predictive value ranging from 0.90 (0.80-0.96) to 0.97 (0.96-0.98). At higher thresholds the sensitivity declined progressively and specificity remained variable across the range of values. There was no statistically significant difference in diagnostic accuracy between plasma B type natriuretic peptide and NTproBNP.
Conclusions At the rule-out thresholds recommended in the 2012 European Society of Cardiology guidelines for heart failure, plasma B type natriuretic peptide, NTproBNP, and MRproANP have excellent ability to exclude acute heart failure. Specificity is variable, and so imaging to confirm a diagnosis of heart failure is required. There is no statistical difference between the diagnostic accuracy of plasma B type natriuretic peptide and NTproBNP. Introduction of natriuretic peptide measurement in the investigation of patients with suspected acute heart failure has the potential to allow rapid and accurate exclusion of the diagnosis.