Heart failure continues to be a major public health problem in the United States, leading to significant morbidity and mortality. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has found that the age-adjusted rate for heart failure-related deaths has actually increased from 2012 through 2014. This disease increase can cause an increased burden to both the individuals affected and their insurance carriers.
There is a laboratory test called NT-proBNP (N-terminal fragment of the pro-hormone B-type natriuretic peptide) that can identify an applicant’s risk of heart failure or left ventricular dysfunction.
NT-proBNP is an endogenously produced neurohormone primarily secreted from the cardiac ventricular myocytes in response to cardiac stress. Clinically, measurements of NT-proBNP are now used in the diagnosis of left ventricular (LV) systolic and diastolic dysfunction (cardiac stretch/stress) and prognostically in a variety of cardiac disease states, including heart failure (HF), acute coronary syndrome (ACS), stable coronary artery disease (CAD) and chronic stable angina pectoris. All of these are FDA-approved indications for clinical use. As a highly sensitive marker for cardiac dysfunction, elevated NT-proBNP levels indicate the presence of an underlying cardiac disorder. A normal serum NT-proBNP level virtually excludes cardiac dysfunction. More importantly, NT-proBNP is an independent marker of long-term morbidity and mortality.
To learn more about NT-proBNP and what it means for underwriting in the life insurance industry, click here.