• Cardiomyopathy;
  • congenital heart defect;
  • heart failure;
  • natriuretic peptide

Aim: To study whether natriuretic peptide types B (BNP) and A (ANP) reflect clinical signs of heart failure (CSHF) in children with congenital heart defects or cardiomyopathy resulting in different types of haemodynamic situations, such as pressure overload in coarctation of the aorta (CoA), volume overload in ventricular septal defect (VSD) or systolic dysfunction in dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Methods: Blood samples for plasma P-BNP and P-ANP were taken before procedures during regular investigation from 26 children (9 CoA, 11 VSD and 6 DCM). The ordinary paediatric cardiologist performed the cardiac evaluation and the data were retrieved from medical charts. CSHF was considered positive if two of the following criteria were fulfilled: reduced physical capacity, feeding disorders, dyspnoea, tachypnoea, hepatomegaly and oedema. The statistical methods were non-parametric. Results: 0/9 children with CoA, 5/11 with VSD and 6/6 with DCM had CSHF. In children with CSHF, P-BNP and P-ANP were higher, 263 ng l−1 (range 47.5–1300) and 303 ng l−1 (range 168–466), than in those without CSHF, 12.3 ng l−1 (range 4.8–30.8) and 42.9 ng l1 (range 13.7–189), respectively (p < 0.001, Mann-Whitney U-test), irrespective of the diagnosis. The same relationship was also found in the group of children with VSD.

Conclusion: Plasma levels of ANP and BNP increase in children with CSHF. This increase is seen irrespective of whether it is due to systolic dysfunction, as in children with DCM, or to a volume overload with a normal systolic function, as in children with VSD.