BNP blood test: natriuretic peptide levels in a heart failure test

BOSTON, MA — Rarely does a new diagnostic test have an immediate impact on clinical practice, but the new test for BNP (B-type natriuretic peptide) has done just that. It's a simple, safe blood test that can help doctors evaluate cardiac function, reports the February 2007 issue of Harvard Men's Health Watch.

BNP belongs to a family of protein hormones called natriuretic peptides, which includes ANP, BNP, CNP, and DNP. Natriuretic peptides are part of the body's natural defense mechanisms designed to protect the heart from stress and play an important role in regulating circulation. They promote urine excretion, relax blood vessels, lower blood pressure, and reduce the heart's workload. Most scientific study has focused on ANP and BNP.

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