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Original research article
N-terminal pro B-type natriuretic peptide in systematic screening for atrial fibrillation


Objective Screening for atrial fibrillation (AF) in individuals aged 65 and above is recommended by the European Society of Cardiology. Increased levels of the biomarker N-terminal pro B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) has in cohort studies been associated with incident AF.

The aim of this study was to assess whether NT-proBNP could be useful for AF detection in systematic screening.

Methods The Strokestop study entailed 7173 Swedish residents aged 75/76 that were screened for AF using twice daily intermittent ECG recordings during 2 weeks. In a substudy of 886 participants, the last 815 consecutive participants and 71 individuals with newly detected AF, levels of NT-proBNP were determined.

Results Participants with newly detected AF (n=96) had a median NT-proBNP of 330 ng/L (IQR 121;634). In individuals without AF (n=742), median NT-proBNP was 171 ng/L (IQR 95;283), p<0.001. The CHA2DS2-VASc parameters did not differ significantly between individuals with newly detected AF and without AF nor between newly detected AF in the NT-proBNP cohort compared with the cohort where NT-proBNP was not assessed. Using an NT-proBNP cut-off of ≥125 ng/L in a non-acute setting yielded a negative predictive value of 92%, meaning that 35% fewer participants would need to be screened when applied to systematic AF screening. Adding weight to NT-proBNP further reduced participants needed to be screened with a preserved sensitivity.

Conclusions NT-proBNP was increased in individuals with newly detected AF. Prospective studies could clarify if NT-proBNP can be used to correctly select individuals that benefit most from AF screening.

Clinical trials Identifier: NCT01593553.

  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Stroke
  • Epidemiology

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