Brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) and N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) are well-established markers for heart failure in the general population. However, the value of BNP as a diagnostic and prognostic marker for patients with structural congenital heart disease (CHD) is still unclear. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the clinical utility of BNP in patients with CHD. We executed a PubMed literature search and included 49 articles that focused on complex congenital heart defects such as tetralogy of Fallot, systemic right ventricle, and univentricular hearts. Data on BNP measurements and cardiac function parameters were extracted. In all patients after correction for tetralogy of Fallot, BNP levels were elevated and correlated significantly with right ventricular end-diastolic dimensions and severity of pulmonary valve regurgitation. Patients with a systemic right ventricle had elevated BNP levels, and positive correlations between BNP and right ventricular function were seen. In patients with a univentricular heart, elevated BNP levels were observed before completion of the Fontan circulation or when patients were symptomatic; a clear association between BNP and New York Heart Association functional class was demonstrated. In conclusion, this review shows an overall increase in BNP values in complex CHD, although differences between types of congenital heart anomaly are present. As BNP values differ widely, conclusions for individual patients should be drawn with caution. Further investigation with sequential BNP measurement in a large, prospective study is warranted to elucidate the prognostic value of BNP assessment in patients with CHD
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