B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) is increased in post-cardiac surgery patients, however the mechanisms underlying BNP release are still unclear. In the current study, we aimed to assess the relationship between postoperative BNP levels and left ventricular filling pressures in post-cardiac surgery patients.
We prospectively enrolled 134 consecutive patients referred to our Center 8 ± 5 days after cardiac surgery. BNP was sampled at hospital admission and related to the following echocardiographic parameters: left ventricular (LV) diastolic volume (DV), LV systolic volume (SV), LV ejection fraction (EF), LV mass, relative wall thickness (RWT), indexed left atrial volume (iLAV), mitral inflow E/A ratio, mitral E wave deceleration time (DT), ratio of the transmitral E wave to the Doppler tissue early mitral annulus velocity (E/E').
A total of 124 patients had both BNP and echocardiographic data. The BNP values were significantly elevated (mean 353 ± 356 pg/ml), with normal value in only 17 patients (13.7%). Mean LVEF was 59 ± 10% (LVEF ≥50% in 108 pts). There was no relationship between BNP and LVEF (p = 0.11), LVDV (p = 0.88), LVSV (p = 0.50), E/A (p = 0.77), DT (p = 0.33) or RWT (p = 0.50). In contrast, BNP was directly related to E/E' (p < 0.001), LV mass (p = 0.006) and iLAV (p = 0.026). At multivariable regression analysis, age and E/E' were the only independent predictors of BNP levels.
In post-cardiac surgery patients with overall preserved LV systolic function, the significant increase in BNP levels is related to E/E', an echocardiographic parameter of elevated LV filling pressures which indicates left atrial pressure as a major determinant in BNP release in this clinical setting.