Affiliation: Departments of Medicine and Radiology University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, 6034 Burnett-Womack Bldg, CB# 7075, 160 Dental Circle, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
Optimizing management of patients with heart failure remains quite challenging despite many significant advances in drug and device therapy for this syndrome. Although a large body of evidence from robust clinical trials supports multiple therapies, utilization of these well-established treatments remains inconsistent and outcomes suboptimal in “real-world” patients with heart failure. Disease management programs may be effective, but are difficult to implement due to cost and logistical issues. Another approach to optimizing therapy is to utilize biomarkers to guide therapeutic choices. Natriuretic peptides provide additional information of significant clinical value in the diagnosis and estimation of risk inpatients with heart failure. Ongoing research suggests a potential important added role for natriuretic peptides in heart failure. Guiding therapy based on serial changes in these biomarkers may be an effective strategy to optimize treatment and achieve better outcomes in this syndrome. Initial, innovative, proof-of-concept studies have provided encouraging results and important insights into key aspects of this strategy, but well designed, large-scale, multicenter, randomized, outcome trials are needed to definitively establish this novel approach to management. Given the immense and growing public health burden of heart failure, identification of cost-effective ways to decrease the morbidity and mortality due to this syndrome is critical.