Early diagnosis of myocardial infarction using absolute and relative changes in cardiac troponin concentrations

Am J Med. 2013 Sep;126(9):781-788.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2013.02.031. Epub 2013 Jul 18.


Background: Absolute changes in high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T (hs-cTnT) seem to have higher diagnostic accuracy in the early diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction compared with relative changes. It is unknown whether the same applies to high-sensitivity cardiac troponin I (hs-cTnI) assays and whether the combination of absolute and relative change might further increase accuracy.

Methods: In a prospective, international multicenter study, high-sensitivity cardiac troponin (hs-cTn) was measured with 3 novel assays (hs-cTnT, Roche Diagnostics Corp, Indianapolis, Ind; hs-cTnI, Beckman Coulter Inc, Brea, Calif; hs-cTnI, Siemens, Munich, Germany) in a blinded fashion at presentation and after 1 and 2 hours in a blinded fashion in 830 unselected patients with suspected acute myocardial infarction. The final diagnosis was adjudicated by 2 independent cardiologists.

Results: The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for diagnosing acute myocardial infarction was significantly higher for 1- and 2-hour absolute versus relative hs-cTn changes for all 3 assays (P < .001). The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of the combination of 2-hour absolute and relative change (hs-cTnT 0.98 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 0.97-0.99]; hs-cTnI, Beckman Coulter Inc, 0.97 [95% CI, 0.96-0.99]; hs-cTnI, Siemens, 0.96 [95% CI, 0.93-0.99]) were high and provided some benefit compared with the use of absolute change alone for hs-cTnT, but not for the hs-cTnI assays. Reclassification analysis confirmed the superiority of absolute changes versus relative changes.

Conclusions: Absolute changes seem to be the preferred metrics for both hs-cTnT and hs-cTnI in the early diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction. The combination of absolute and relative changes provides a small added value for hs-cTnT, but not for hs-cTnI.

Keywords: Absolute; Diagnosis; Myocardial infarction; Relative troponin changes.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Area Under Curve
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / blood*
  • Prospective Studies
  • ROC Curve
  • Troponin I / blood*
  • Troponin T / blood*


  • Troponin I
  • Troponin T