B – Type Natriuretic Peptide (BNP)

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A B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) test checks the functioning of your heart. A protein called BNP is measured in your bloodstream using this blood test. Your heart produces more BNP when it has to work harder to pump blood. BNP levels that are higher may indicate heart failure or difficulty.

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This test looks for higher levels of BNP in your blood to rule out cardiovascular disease. If you have symptoms of heart failure, you may be given a BNP or NT-proBNP test.  Heart failure occurs when your heart does not pump blood as it should. It does not imply that your heart has failed or has completely stopped working.

Heart failure symptoms include:

  • Cough that appears dry or “hacking” and worsens when lying down
  • Breathing difficulties, shortness of breath (dyspnea), or wheezing
  • Delirium or confusion
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Sluggishness or fatigue
  • Palpitations in the heart
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or loss of appetite
  • Edema (swelling) in your abdomen, legs, ankles, and feet
  • Urinating more frequently than usual at night

What exactly is BNP?

BNP is one of several proteins that aid in the regulation of blood circulation throughout the body. Although this protein is produced by the heart, it is sometimes referred to as “brain” natriuretic peptide because it was discovered in brain tissue.

Your heart and blood vessels, as part of your circulatory system, pump oxygen-rich blood to your muscles, organs, and other tissues. The left ventricle (one of the four chambers of the heart) pumps a large amount of blood through the heart and into your body.

One of the main organs that produces BNP is the left ventricle. BNP levels rise as your heart stretches as a result of increased load or as a result of injury. In response to such stress, your heart muscle cells secrete BNP to unload your heart, which causes your kidneys to excrete salt and water (hence the term “natriuretic”).

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