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What is brain natriuretic peptide, and what does its level in the body indicate?

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Quick Answer

Brain natriuretic peptide, also called B-type natriuretic peptide or BNP, is a protein released by the lower chambers of the heart in response to higher pressure levels that occur during heart failure, explains Cleveland Clinic. People with heart failure usually have a BNP greater than 100 picograms per milliliter.

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An individual's BNP level typically rises as heart failure symptoms worsen. BNP levels greater than 300 picograms per milliliter indicate mild heart failure, greater than 600 picograms per milliliter indicate moderate heart failure, and levels above 900 picograms per milliliter indicate severe heart failure, according to Cleveland Clinic. Doctors use the BNP level to guide heart failure treatment and decide if a heart failure patient requires hospitalization or aggressive treatment. Doctors also use the BNP level to determine a heart failure patient's future prognosis.

Heart failure is a condition that occurs when the heart is weakened and not pumping blood properly, explains the American Heart Association. Because the heart is weak, the body's cells do not receive adequate blood supply, resulting in symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue and coughing. Heart failure usually begins in the left side of the heart, but it may also affect the right side or both sides. Although heart failure does not have a cure, patients can successfully manage their condition through medications and lifestyle changes.

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