Study objective: Recent reports suggest a short series of cardiac troponin (cTnT) testing effectively identifies patients at risk for cardiac events. However, there are few studies validating this strategy. The purpose of this study was to determine the ability of cTnT levels to predict short- and long-term outcomes in low-risk patients with suspected acute coronary syndromes.
Methods: This prospective longitudinal study was conducted in a 20-bed emergency department observation unit. Patients at low risk for acute coronary ischemia, with a normal creatine kinase-isoenzyme subunit MB (CKMB) index, were admitted to an observation unit for chest pain evaluation. Serum cTnT levels were measured at baseline and at 4, 8, and 16 hours after admission. The main outcome measures were adverse cardiac events (death, acute myocardial infarction, unstable angina, revascularization) during the index visit and within 6 months after discharge. Using manufacturer's recommendations, the cTnT level was considered abnormal if it exceeded 0.2 microg/L.
Results: Two hundred sixty-six patients were evaluated. Twenty-one (7.9%) had an adverse event during their index hospitalization. Troponin testing identified only 2 (9.5%) of these patients. Twenty (7.5%) had a cardiac event within 6 months; none were identified by cTnT testing. The sensitivity and specificity were 9.5% and 99.2%, respectively, at the index visit, and 0% and 98.4% at 6 months. The positive and negative predictive values were 50% and 93%, respectively, at the index visit; and 0% and 92% at 6 months.
Conclusion: Determination of troponin T levels has a low sensitivity and high specificity for predicting outcomes in low-risk patients evaluated for suspected acute coronary syndromes. This study does not support a strategy of relying solely on troponin testing for disposition decisions.