Identification of patients with cardiac dysfunction can be difficult in the geriatric population. Recently, different subtypes of the natriuretic peptide family have been advocated as biomarker for the diagnosis of heart failure in the emergency department setting. In this study we looked at associations between natriuretic peptide plasma levels and echocardiographic abnormalities in geriatric outpatients. Two-dimensional transthoracic echocardiography was performed in 209 community-dwelling subjects, visiting the geriatric outpatient clinic of our university hospital. Subjects were 65 years or older and had no markedly impaired cognitive function. Mean atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) and B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP) plasma levels were respectively 11.0 and 10.8 pmol/l. BNP, but not ANP correlated with left ventricular dysfunction and left ventricular mass, whereas both peptides correlated with left atrial dimension and valvular lesions, A natriuretic peptide level in the highest tertile was associated with a higher risk of any echocardiographic abnormality, with odds ratios for BNP of 7.15 (range 2.15-23.71), and for ANP of 3.07 (range 1.15-8.16). In conclusion, elevated BNP and ANP plasma levels are closely related to cardiac abnormalities in elderly subjects. The association between cardiac abnormalities and natriuretic peptides is stronger for BNP than for ANP, hence for detection of cardiac abnormalities measurement of BNP plasma values are preferred over ANP plasma values. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.