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Implications of troponin testing in clinical medicine.

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University Hospital Eppendorf, Division of Cardiology, Hamburg, Germany.


During the past decade considerable research has been conducted into the use of cardiac troponins, their diagnostic capability and their potential to allow risk stratification in patients with acute chest pain. Determination of risk in patients with suspected myocardial ischaemia is known to be as important as retrospective confirmation of a diagnosis of myocardial infarction (MI). Therefore, creatine kinase (CK)-MB - the former 'gold standard' in detecting myocardial necrosis - has been supplanted by new, more accurate biomarkers.Measurement of cardiac troponin levels constitute a substantial determinant in assessment of ischaemic heart disease, the presentations of which range from silent ischaemia to acute MI. Under these conditions, troponin release is regarded as surrogate marker of thrombus formation and peripheral embolization, and therefore new therapeutic strategies are focusing on potent antithrombotic regimens to improve long-term outcomes. Although elevated troponin levels are highly sensitive and specific indicators of myocardial damage, they are not always reflective of acute ischaemic coronary artery disease; other processes have been identified that cause elevations in these biomarkers. However, because prognosis appears to be related to the presence of troponins regardless of the mechanism of myocardial damage, clinicians increasingly rely on troponin assays when formulating individual therapeutic plans.


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