Context: Cardiac troponins I (cTnI) and T (cTnT) are useful for assessing prognosis in patients with unstable angina and non-ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (UA/NSTEMI). However, the use of cardiac troponins for predicting benefit of an invasive vs conservative strategy in this patient population is not clear.
Objective: To prospectively test whether an early invasive strategy provides greater benefit than a conservative strategy in acute coronary syndrome patients with elevated baseline troponin levels.
Design: Prospective, randomized trial conducted from December 1997 to June 2000.
Setting: One hundred sixty-nine community and tertiary care hospitals in 9 countries.
Participants: A total of 2220 patients with acute coronary syndrome were enrolled. Baseline troponin level data were available for analysis in 1821, and 1780 completed the 6-month follow-up.
Interventions: Patients were randomly assigned to receive (1) an early invasive strategy of coronary angiography between 4 and 48 hours after randomization and revascularization when feasible based on coronary anatomy (n = 1114) or (2) a conservative strategy of medical treatment and, if stable, predischarge exercise tolerance testing (n = 1106). Conservative strategy patients underwent coronary angiography and revascularization only if they manifested recurrent ischemia at rest or on provocative testing.
Main outcome measure: Composite end point of death, MI, or rehospitalization for acute coronary syndrome at 6 months.
Results: Patients with a cTnI level of 0.1 ng/mL or more (n = 1087) experienced a significant reduction in the primary end point with the invasive vs conservative strategy (15.3% vs 25.0%; odds ratio [OR], 0.54; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.40-0.73). Patients with cTnI levels of less than 0.1 ng/mL had no detectable benefit from early invasive management (16.0% vs 12.4%; OR, 1.4; 95% CI, 0.89-2.05; P<.001 for interaction). The benefit of invasive vs conservative management through 30 days was evident even among patients with low-level (0.1-0.4 ng/mL) cTnI elevation (4.4% vs 16.5%; OR, 0.24; 95% CI, 0.08-0.69). Directionally similar results were observed with cTnT.
Conclusion: In patients with clinically documented acute coronary syndrome who are treated with glycoprotein IIb/IIIa inhibitors, even small elevations in cTnI and cTnT identify high-risk patients who derive a large clinical benefit from an early invasive strategy.