Significance of elevated cardiac troponin T levels in critically ill patients with acute respiratory disease

Am J Med. 2010 Nov;123(11):1049-58. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2010.06.021.


Background: Elevations in cardiac troponin have prognostic importance in critically ill patients. However, there are no data addressing the independent association between troponin levels and mortality, adjusted for the severity of the underlying disease, in patients hospitalized for acute respiratory disorders. We investigated whether troponin T (cTnT) elevations are independently associated with in-hospital mortality in patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) admitted for severe and acute respiratory conditions. After adjusting for the severity of disease measured by the Acute Physiology, Age, and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE) III prognostic system, we evaluated short-term (30 days) and long-term (3 years) mortality.

Methods: We studied the APACHE III database and cTnT levels from patients admitted consecutively to the ICU at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. Between January 2001 and December 2005, 2078 patients with respiratory conditions had cTnT measured at ICU admission. In-hospital, short-term (30 days) and long-term (3 years) all-cause mortality were determined.

Results: Of the study patients, 878 (42.3%) had elevated cTnT and 1200 patients (57.7%) had undetectable cTnT. During hospitalization, 1.1% of the patients with troponin T <0.01 ng/mL died compared to 21% of those with troponin T ≥0.01 ng/mL (P <.0001). At 30 days, mortality was 18.6% in patients with elevations of cTnT and 1.5% in patients without elevations of cTnT (P <.0001). The Kaplan-Meier probability of survival at 1-year follow-up was 71.0%, at 2-year follow-up was 48.3%, and 3-year follow-up was 39.4% with troponin T ≥0.01 ng/mL and at 1-year follow-up was 98.8%, at 2-year follow-up was 97.2%, and at 3-year follow-up was 95.5% with troponin T <0.01 μg/L (P <.0001). After adjustment for severity of disease and baseline characteristics, cTnT levels remained associated with in-hospital, short-term and long-term mortality (P <.0001).

Conclusions: In patients admitted to the ICU for respiratory disorders, cTnT elevations are independently associated with in-hospital, short-term and long-term mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Critical Illness* / mortality
  • Female
  • Hospital Mortality
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • ROC Curve
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / blood*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / mortality
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Troponin T / blood*


  • Troponin T