Previous studies have shown that levels of plasma brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) increase in an early phase of acute myocardial infarction. However, the relations between plasma BNP levels and left ventricular remodelling, which occurs long after acute myocardial infarction, are not fully understood. Venous plasma BNP levels were measured 2, 7, 14, 30, 90 and 180 days after the onset of acute myocardial infarction in 21 patients. Left ventricular end-diastolic volume index (EDVI, ml/m2) in acute (5 days) and chronic (6 months) phases were assessed by electron-beam computed tomography using Simpson'S method. The remodelling group (n = 9) was defined by an increase in EDVI ⩾ 5 ml/m2 relative to the baseline value. Plasma BNP levels on days 2, 7, 14, 30 and 90 were significantly higher in the remodelling group than in the non-remodelling group (n = 12, P< 0.05). Sustained elevation of plasma BNP levels was noted from day 2 (61±12 pmol/l) to day 90 (55±12 pmol/l) and significantly decreased on day 180 (24±3 pmol/l) in the remodelling group. In contrast, plasma BNP levels significantly decreased from day 2 (25±4 pmol/l) to day 90 (9±1 pmol/l) and reached a steady level thereafter in the non-remodelling group. Plasma BNP levels on day 7 correlated positively with an increase in EDVI (r = 0.70, P< 0.001) from the acute to chronic phase. More importantly, the sustained elevation of plasma BNP (percentage decrease smaller than 25%) from day 30 to day 90 identified patients in the remodelling group with a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 83%. In conclusion, not only the high levels of plasma BNP in an acute phase, but also the sustained elevation of plasma BNP in a chronic phase, may be associated with progressive ventricular remodelling occurring long after acute myocardial infarction.

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