Elevated cardiac troponin measurements in critically ill patients

Arch Intern Med. 2006 Dec;166(22):2446-54. doi: 10.1001/archinte.166.22.2446.


Background: The clinical significance of elevated cardiac troponin (cTn) level in patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) is uncertain. We reviewed the frequency of cTn elevation and its association with mortality and length of ICU stay in these patients.

Methods: Studies were identified using MEDLINE, EMBASE, and reference list review. We included observational studies of critically ill patients that measured cTn at least once and reported the frequency of elevated cTn or outcome (mortality and length of ICU or hospital stay). We pooled the odds ratios (ORs) using the inverse variance method in studies that conducted multivariable analysis to examine the relationship between elevated cTn and mortality (adjusted analysis). We calculated the weighted mean difference in length of stay between patients with and without elevated cTn and pooled the results using the inverse variance method (unadjusted analysis).

Results: A total of 23 studies involving 4492 critically ill patients were included. In 20 studies, elevated cTn was found in a median of 43% (interquartile range, 21% to 59%) of 3278 patients. In adjusted analysis (6 studies comprising 1706 patients), elevated cTn was associated with an increased risk of death (OR, 2.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.9 to 3.4; P < .001). In the unadjusted analysis (8 studies comprising 1019 patients), elevated cTn was associated with an increased length of ICU stay of 3.0 days (95% CI, 1.0 to 5.1 days; P = .004) and an increased length of hospital stay of 2.2 days (95% CI, -0.6 to 4.9; P = .12).

Conclusions: Elevated cTn measurements among critically ill patients are associated with increased mortality and ICU length of stay. Research is needed to clarify the underlying causes of elevated cTn in this population and to examine their clinical significance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Critical Illness* / mortality
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data
  • Length of Stay
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Troponin / analysis*


  • Troponin