proBNP Testing in Cats
The cat’s heart increases production and secretion of BNP, B-type natriuretic peptide hormone, in response to excessive stretching of heart muscle cells, which is common in many forms of heart disease and heart failure. The magnitude of the increase in circulating BNP is correlated to the severity of the underlying heart disease. A diagnostic test is available, the feline NT-proBNP, which can measure this hormone.
Cats with respiratory signs such as shortness of breath (dyspnea), rapid breathing (tachypnea), and cough may be associated with underlying heart diseases such as cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure, or a primary respiratory disease such as bronchitis/asthma, pneumonia, pleural effusion, and so on. At times it is unclear if the respiratory symptoms are related to cardiac (heart) or pulmonary (lung) disease, especially if the physical exam and chest x-rays are ambiguous. In such cases, a proBNP test may help guide further diagnostic testing and therapy. The proBNP is not a stand-alone test but can be valuable when included with other diagnostic testing such as chest x-rays and echocardiograms.