JUN 06, 2018 08:16 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
MAY 05, 2018
Cardiology
MAY 05, 2018
When Low-Risk People Still Get Atherosclerosis
For people with blood pressure, cholesterol, and age associated with a low to intermediate level of risk for heart disease, scientists wouldn’t expec...
MAY 23, 2018
Technology
MAY 23, 2018
Building Block Medical Test Is Reusable
MIT's Little Devices Lab has created a more affordable solution called Ampli blocks that consists of modular diagnostic kits, which can be re-oriented and reused....
JUL 02, 2018
Cardiology
JUL 02, 2018
AF Treatment Zaps Faulty Heart Tissue
Treating atrial fibrillation (AF), the most common type of arrhythmia, with what was previously a last-resort therapeutic approach will help reduce the ris...
JUL 12, 2018
Cardiology
JUL 12, 2018
Heart Attacks and Improving Heart Regeneration
A recent study has found that treatment with the protein, VEGF-C, improves healing and recovery of heart function after a heart attack....
AUG 16, 2018
Clinical & Molecular DX
AUG 16, 2018
Bubbles and a blood test could detect brain tumors
Researchers have developed a proof-of-concept technique that allows them to detect brain tumor biomarkers with a simple blood test, rather than a complicat...
AUG 23, 2018
Cardiology
AUG 23, 2018
A Faster and Safe Heart Attack Diagnosis
A new clinical score can diagnose heart attack quickly and safely compared to traditional diagnostic methods....
Loading Comments...