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J Am Coll Cardiol. 2003 Jun 4;41(11):2004-9.

Troponin as a risk factor for mortality in critically ill patients without acute coronary syndromes.

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  • 1Division of Cardiology, Triemli Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland.



We sought to assess the mechanism and prognostic value of elevated troponins in patients without acute coronary syndromes (ACS).


Cardiac troponins are used as specific markers for the diagnosis of ACS. Recent studies reported a considerable number of critically ill patients without ACS as being troponin-positive, especially patients with sepsis, pulmonary embolism, renal failure, and stroke.


We analyzed 58 consecutive, critically ill patients admitted for reasons other than ACS, according to their troponin status. Thirty-day mortality, left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), and a panel of inflammatory cytokines were compared between troponin-positive and troponin-negative patients. Relevant coronary artery disease was excluded either by stress echocardiography or autopsy.


Of the 58 critically ill patients, 32 (55%) without evidence of ACS were troponin-positive. Positive troponin levels were associated with higher mortality (22.4% vs. 5.2%, p < 0.018) and a lower LVEF (p = 0.0006). Troponin-positive patients had significantly higher median levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, its soluble receptor, and interleukin (IL)-6. A subgroup of 10 aplastic patients was troponin-negative at study entry. Three became troponin-positive during leukocyte recovery and subsequently died, whereas all the others stayed troponin-negative and survived. Flow-limiting coronary artery disease was not demonstrable at autopsy or stress echocardiography in 72% of troponin-positive patients.


Elevated troponin is a mortality risk factor for medical intensive care patients admitted for reasons other than ACS. It is associated with decreased left ventricular function and higher levels of TNF-alpha and IL-6.

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