The STOP-HF Screening Programme Assessment
If your GP has referred you to the STOPHF clinic
Natriuretic peptide is a protein that is released if there is stress or strain on the heart muscle. It can be measured in two ways: BNP (B-Type Natriuretic Peptide) and NTproBNP (N-Terminal pro B-Type Natriuretic Peptide).
The STOP-HF Screening Programme uses these measurements as indicator of risk or warning signals. BNP is a guide to future management of cardiovascular risk factors. The value of this blood test is that it provided additional information on an individual’s heart health independent of other features, including how the patient is feeling. Once this test rises above a certain value, we advise that a heart scan (echocardiogram) is perform as this test is an accurate way of determining the level of stress on the heart. The result of this scan might indicate that other tests are needed but your doctor will inform you if this is required.
An elevated Natriuretic Peptide level, independent of the heart scan result, underlines the need for careful attention to the day-to-day management of risk factors. Certain changes may be advised on lifestyle factors. Changes may be made in medicines used to manage high blood pressure, high cholesterol and/or diabetes and you will be advised to always adhere to your medication regimen. With the above changes we have shown that risk is reduced. Not only for heart failure but for other heart ailments such as stroke and heart rhythm disorders.
While we follow the Natriuretic Peptide test result regularly do not be concerned if the value does not decline over time, despite your best efforts. We understand that this can happen and it does not imply that your hard work and ours is not having a beneficial effect on your heart.
Cholesterol is a group of fats and fat-like substances. Cholesterol is found naturally in our bodies and is needed for the body to function properly. Every cell in our bodies contains cholesterol. It is also found in the food we eat. The cholesterol we take in via food is absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach and circulates through the blood stream. Monitoring and maintaining normal levels of cholesterol is important in staying healthy.
A sample for non-fasting glucose level are taken to screen for possible diabetes.
These samples help us continue our research to continue improving ways to predict and prevent heart failure.
Thorough history taking is completed on every visit and involves the following:
- Assessing risks for developing heart failure
- Medical and surgical history
- Current medications: It is very important that an accurate list of medications is given. This is to prevent errors in your medication prescriptions and so that you are not taking over the amount of medication that you may need
- Presence of cardiac related symptoms
Similarly, physical examination is completed on every visit as follows:
- Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Abdominal girth
- Pulse (heart rate and rhythm)
- Blood pressure: This is a measurement of the pressure of the blood against the wall of the blood vessels. Two measurements are obtained: Systolic blood pressure which is the first reading or ‘top’ reading is the pressure when the heart and blood vessels are squeezing. Diastolic is the second reading or ‘lower’ reading is when the heart and blood vessels are relaxing. There is much debate over what is an acceptable blood pressure reading. Presently, if a blood pressure is greater than 140/85mmHg it is recommended that a 24-hour blood pressure monitor is done to confirm the finding of high blood pressure.
This is where the electrical rhythm of the heart is monitored and recorded over a 24 hour period and might be advised if you are complaining of palpitation, fluttering in the chest or if you have experienced a black out or near blackout. In situation where your Natriuretic Peptide value is elevated, a Holter monitor may also be used to check if you are getting an intermittent irregular heartbeat that you might not be aware of.