Troponin elevations only detected with a high-sensitivity assay: clinical correlations and prognostic significance

Acad Emerg Med. 2014 Jul;21(7):727-35. doi: 10.1111/acem.12417. Epub 2014 Aug 11.


Objectives: With clinical use of high-sensitivity troponin I (hsTnI), more frequent troponin elevations will occur. However, the burden and implications of these elevations are not well understood. The authors quantified the prevalence of elevated hsTnI in patients presenting with possible acute coronary syndrome (ACS) who do not have elevated troponin with a current generation assay (cardiac troponin I [cTnI]) and determined the association of these newly detected elevations with a composite of all-cause mortality and subsequent cardiac hospitalization.

Methods: This was a prospective observational study of 808 subjects evaluated for possible ACS and followed for up to 1 year. Troponin values were measured with hsTnI (Abbott Laboratories) and cTnI (Abbott and Beckman Coulter). Cardiac hospitalization was defined as hospitalization for ACS, revascularization, acute heart failure (AHF), or tachy/brady arrhythmia that occurred after the index emergency department (ED) visit or hospital discharge.

Results: Forty subjects (5%) were diagnosed with ACS (26 myocardial infarction and 14 unstable angina). On the initial sample, the prevalence of elevated hsTnI among subjects with nonelevated cTnI was 9.2% using a gender-neutral cutoff (95% confidence interval [CI] = 7.1% to 11.4%) and 11.1% using a gender-specific cutoff (95% CI = 8.8% to 13.4%). Adjudicated diagnoses for subjects whose initial samples had elevated hsTnI but nonelevated cTnI (gender-neutral cutoff) were as follows: three (4.6%) ACS, 15 (23.1%) AHF, three (4.6%) volume overload etiology unclear/noncardiac, three (4.6%) cardiac (non-ACS), and 41 (63.1%) other. Of the 65 patients whose initial samples had hsTnI but nonelevated cTnI, eight developed cTnI elevation on subsequent serial sampling. After traditional cardiovascular risk factors and renal function were adjusted for, subjects with elevated initial hsTnI but nonelevated cTnI (initial and serial sampling) had a higher risk of all-cause mortality and subsequent cardiac hospitalization than subjects with both nonelevated hsTnI and nonelevated cTnI (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.91, 95% CI = 1.14 to 3.19).

Conclusions: On the initial sample, 9% to 11% of subjects without cTnI elevation had hsTnI elevation. Although the majority of the patients with these newly detected hsTnI elevations did not have ACS, they had a higher risk for all-cause mortality and subsequent cardiac hospitalization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / blood
  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Acute Coronary Syndrome / mortality
  • Angina, Unstable / blood
  • Angina, Unstable / diagnosis*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / blood
  • Heart Failure / diagnosis*
  • Heart Failure / mortality
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / blood
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnosis*
  • Myocardial Infarction / mortality
  • Patient Readmission / statistics & numerical data
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Troponin / blood*


  • Biomarkers
  • Troponin