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These tests measure the concentration of BNP or NT-proBNP in the blood. The heart normally produces low levels of a precursor protein, pro-BNP, which is cleaved to release the active hormone BNP and an inactive fragment, NT-proBNP. The purpose of BNP is to help regulate blood volume and, therefore, the work that the heart must do in pumping blood throughout the body. Both BNP and NT-proBNP are produced mainly in the heart’s left ventricle (the organ’s main pumping chamber). When the left ventricle is stretched from having to work harder, the concentrations of BNP and NT-proBNP in blood can increase markedly. This situation may occur in heart failure as well as other diseases that affect the heart and circulatory system.

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