JUN 06, 2018 8:16 AM PDT

New and Improved Troponin Test for Future Heart Attack Risk

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

A test used by doctors in the emergency room to determine if a person is having a heart attack is now equipped to be more sensitive than ever. In addition to diagnosing heart attacks earlier, the test has been shown to decrease the risk of future heart attacks.

When a patient enters the ER complaining of chest pain, a blood test measuring troponin levels can diagnose a heart attack.

From the Karolinska Institutet, researchers introduce a new, high-sensitivity version of the troponin test, a diagnostic method using blood samples for diagnosing heart attack in emergency room patients with chest pain. The test works by detecting troponin levels, and the new test is ten times as sensitive as past tests; it can detect extremely small amounts of troponin.

Troponin is a protein found in heart muscle cells, called cardiomyocytes. These cells are injured during events like a heart attack, where an adequate amount of blood does not reach the heart, and the cells are starved for oxygen and nutrients. In this scenario, cardiomoycytes release troponin, making the protein a key warning sign that a person is having a heart attack.

A troponin test is administered if a person is complaining of chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, sweating, and exhaustion. Depending on the severity of symptoms or the result of the troponin test, electrocardiograms (ECGs) are another diagnostic method, as they measure the heart’s electrical activity.

The new study fills a gap in the research area of heart attack diagnostics, investigating the potential of the high-sensitivity troponin test to improve survival and lower the risk of future heart attacks.

Researchers conducted their study with about 88,000 heart attack patients in Sweden. About half of the patients had received the high-sensitivity troponin test, and half had received the conventional troponin test. They found that five percent more heart attacks were being diagnosed when the high-sensitivity troponin test was applied compared to the conventional test.

The new troponin test also appeared to be effective at lowering the risk of new heart attacks. It seems that the high-sensitivity test is helping at-risk patients take preventative action to minimize their risk of future heart disease. Improving diagnosis also means that heart attack patients are receiving care sooner, like coronary angiography and balloon angioplasty.

"The increase we observed in our study was less than expected, which means that the high-sensitivity troponin test has enabled doctors to single out the patients who benefit from such intervention,” explained study leader Dr. Martin Holzmann. “We found no differences in medication between the two groups, so the differences in prognosis with fewer new heart attacks could be attributed to the fact that more coronary angiography and balloon dilation procedures have been performed on the right patients.”

The present study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Sources: University of Rochester Medical Center, Karolinska Institutet

About the Author
  • I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
AUG 01, 2020
Cardiology
Identifying Biomarkers for the Diagnosis of Diabetic Cardiomyopathy
AUG 01, 2020
Identifying Biomarkers for the Diagnosis of Diabetic Cardiomyopathy
Type 2 diabetes affects millions around the world.  By itself, it prevents your body from properly using sugars fro ...
AUG 03, 2020
Cancer
Improving Diagnostics in Breast Cancer
AUG 03, 2020
Improving Diagnostics in Breast Cancer
Diagnostics is one of the essential tools in a physician’s toolkit. A good diagnostic test can identify whether a ...
AUG 06, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Gut Feeling: Spotting the Early Signs of Gastric Cancer
AUG 06, 2020
Gut Feeling: Spotting the Early Signs of Gastric Cancer
In a study published in Science Advances, scientists propose a new method for diagnosing gastric cancer, the third leadi ...
SEP 14, 2020
Health & Medicine
Direct Amplification: Rapid, Extraction-Free RT-qPCR Results
SEP 14, 2020
Direct Amplification: Rapid, Extraction-Free RT-qPCR Results
As the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues to rage across the United States and around the globe, the demand for COVID-19 test ...
OCT 17, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Imaging Innovation Set to Ease the Pain of Osteoarthritis
OCT 17, 2020
Imaging Innovation Set to Ease the Pain of Osteoarthritis
In osteoarthritis, the joint cartilage that cushions bones begins to break down, causing debilitating pain and stiffness ...
NOV 16, 2020
Microbiology
Using the Microbiome to Diagnose or Treat Autism
NOV 16, 2020
Using the Microbiome to Diagnose or Treat Autism
Autism is a complex disorder that has sent researchers searching for what is causing it, as the rates continue to rise. ...
Loading Comments...