Medical indicator for heart failure may help identify healthy pregnancies

A person who is pregnant touches their belly while meeting with a clinician.

Clinical indicators of cardiovascular health help physicians assess a patient’s health status – while providing early insights into potential signs of organ dysfunction, such as with heart failure. Surprisingly, researchers found that higher levels of N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP), a clinical indicator associated with cardiac dysfunction, may provide insight into healthy pregnancies, according to research published in JAMA Cardiology.  
The authors used data from more than 4,000 women participating in the nuMoM2b Heart Health Study. Originally, they thought that higher NT-proBNP levels would identify women at increased risks for cardiovascular-related pregnancy complications. They were surprised to find the opposite: higher NT-proBNP levels in early pregnancy were associated with fewer incidents of pregnancy complications and a reduced likelihood of women developing high blood pressure 2-7 years after pregnancy. The researchers suspect this link may be due to normal cardiovascular changes that take place in early pregnancy. They conclude more research is needed to confirm the associations they found and to explain these underlying mechanisms.  
The study was supported by the NHLBI.