What is NT-proBNP and why you should care.

| July 23, 2018

As an insurance advisor, you have probably noticed that the need for your clients to complete stress tests or even ECGs to secure life insurance has decreased.   Life insurance carriers have not become more liberal -- they have simply found another way of screening cardiac risks: NT-proBNP which is simply another test within the blood drawn by the paramed.

NT-proBNP is an enzyme that is released into the blood stream when the walls of the heart are under increased tension or strain.   Until recently, its main application was in emergency medicine as a quick method to screen for congestive heart failure.  Currently it is progressively replacing resting ECGs and stress tests as insurance screens.   Some of the issues to consider are:

  • The test is simply another test on the same blood specimen that the paramed secured so there is no additional inconvenience to the client.
  • There are no issues with the paramed placing the leads wrong or performing the test incorrectly. 
  • NT-proBNP have been shown to be highly accurate in detecting heart issues prior to symptoms becoming apparent.
  • The results are quantitative in that the higher the value, the greater the likelihood of a major issue being present.
  • If the client has a known cardiac condition a favorable result can be used by the carrier to help improve the offer.
  • The enzyme is released by the heart muscle when it is under stress, but several non-cardiac issues can cause the heart to be strained.  Some examples are renal failure, pulmonary disease, over active thyroid and even advanced liver disease. 
  • The test is much less expensive than a stress test or ECG for the insurance carriers.
  • The result can be abnormal but easily explainable due to know cardiac conditions such as various arrythmias.
  • With NT-proBNP being a newer test for insurance screening carriers are in stages of incorporating the test into their underwriting protocols.   Care has to be taken when moving a case from one carrier to another.
  • Carriers also vary widely as to how much emphasis they place on the results so proper carrier selection is important with abnormal results.
  • The test is more convenient for the applicant in that it does not require going to an outside facility to perform a stress test.

We continually monitor the industry in regard to all forms of data and we can guide you appropriately should your client have an issue with this or any other lab study.      

Feel free to contact me on this subject or any other underwriting matter at 800-426-6848 or bmcgrory@globalisg.net.

Thank you,

Bill McGrory