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Disease Markers
Volume 26 (2009), Issue 4, Pages 189-195

High Serum Levels of Pro-Brain Natriuretic Peptide (pro BNP) Identify Cardioembolic Origin in Undetermined Stroke

Manuel Rodríguez-Yáñez,1 Tomás Sobrino,1 Miguel Blanco,1 Natalia Pérez de la Ossa,2 David Brea,1 Raquel Rodríguez-González,1 Rogelio Leira,1 Antonio Dávalos,2 and José Castillo1

1Clinical Neuroscience Research Laboratory, Department of Neurology, Hospital Clínico Universitario, University of Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
2Department of Neurosciences, Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Received 19 August 2009; Accepted 19 August 2009

Copyright © 2009 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background: Stroke subtype diagnosis leads to specific therapies to reduce recurrences. Because nearly one third of patients remain with unknown etiology after a complete screening workup, we aim to investigate whether molecular markers of myocardial damage were associated with cardioembolic stroke and if they were useful to reclassify strokes of undetermined etiology.

Methods: We included 262 patients with first ischemic stroke within the first 12 hours. Stroke subtype was evaluated by TOAST criteria. Stroke of undetermined origin were reclassified into likely atherothrombotic or likely cardioembolic according to a predefined non-validated algorithm. Blood samples were obtained on admission to determine serum levels of molecular markers (pro-BNP, pro-ANP and CK-MB) of myocardial damage.

Results: Patients with cardioembolic infarct showed higher levels of pro-BNP, pro-ANP and CK-MB. Pro-BNP > 360 pg/mL was independently associated with cardioembolic stroke (OR: 28.51, CI95%: 5.90–136.75, p < 0.0001). Stroke etiology was undetermined in 82 patients (31%); 34 were reclassified as likely cardioembolic, 22 as likely atherothrombotic, and 26 remained as undetermined. Pro-BNP > 360 pg/mL was the only factor independently associated with likely cardioembolic stroke.

Conclusions: Pro-BNP levels higher than 360 pg/mL are associated with cardioembolic stroke and may be useful to reclassify undetermined strokes as of cardioembolic origin.