Background: A proportion of patients with acute ischemic stroke have elevated cardiac troponin levels and ECG changes suggestive of cardiac injury, but the etiology is unclear. The aims of this study were to assess the frequency of high sensitivity cardiac troponin T (hs-cTnT) elevation, to identify determinants and ECG changes associated with hs-cTnT elevation, to identify patients with myocardial ischemia and to assess the impact of hs-cTnT elevation on in-hospital mortality.
Methods: Patients discharged with a diagnosis of acute ischemic stroke during a 1-year period, were included. Patients diagnosed with acute myocardial infarction (MI) within the last 7 days before admission or during hospitalization were excluded.
Results: In all, 156 (54.4%) of 287 patients had elevated hs-cTnT. The factors independently associated with hs-cTnT elevation were age ≥ 76 years (OR 3.71 [95% CI 2.04-6.75]), previous coronary heart disease (CHD) (OR 2.61 [1.23-5.53]), congestive heart failure (OR 4.26 [1.15-15.82]), diabetes mellitus (OR 4.02 [1.50-10.76]) and lower eGFR (OR 0.97 [0.95-0.98]). Of the 182 patients who had two hs-cTnT measurements, 12 (6.6%) had both a rise or fall of hs-cTnT with at least one elevated value, and ECG manifestations of myocardial ischemia, e.g. meeting the criteria of acute MI. Both dynamic relative change (p = 0.026) and absolute change (p = 0.032) in hs-cTnT were significantly associated with higher in-hospital mortality.
Conclusions: Established CHD and cardiovascular risk factors are associated with hs-cTnT elevation. Acute MI is likely underdiagnosed in acute ischemic stroke patients. Dynamic changes in troponin levels seem to be related to poor short-term prognosis.