Normal high-sensitivity cardiac troponin for ruling-out inpatient mortality in acute COVID-19

PLoS One. 2023 Apr 21;18(4):e0284523. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0284523. eCollection 2023.


Introduction: Assessment of inpatient mortality risk in COVID-19 patients is important for guiding clinical decision-making. High sensitivity cardiac troponin T (hs-cTnT) is a biomarker of cardiac injury associated with a worse prognosis in COVID-19. We explored how hs-cTnT could potentially be used in clinical practice for ruling in and ruling out mortality in COVID-19.

Method: We tested the diagnostic value of hs-cTnT in laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patients (≥18 years old) admitted to the Royal Berkshire Hospital (UK) between 1st March and 10th May 2020. A normal hs-cTnT was defined as a value within the 99th percentile of healthy individuals (≤14 ng/L), and an elevated hs-cTnT was defined as >14 ng/L. Adverse clinical outcome was defined as inpatient mortality related to COVID-19.

Results: A total of 191 COVID-19 patients (62% male; age 66±16 years) had hs-cTnT measured on admission. Of these patients, 124 (65%) had elevated hs-cTnT and 67 (35%) had normal hs-cTnT. On a group level, patients with elevated hs-cTnT had worse inpatient survival (p = 0.0014; Kaplan-Meier analysis) and higher risk of inpatient mortality (HR 5.84 [95% CI 1.29-26.4]; p = 0.02; Cox multivariate regression) compared to patients with normal hs-cTnT. On a per-patient level, a normal hs-cTnT had a negative predictive value of 94% (95% CI: 85-98%) for ruling out mortality, whilst an elevated hs-cTnT had a low positive predictive value of 38% (95% CI: 39-47%) for ruling in mortality.

Conclusions: In this study cohort of COVID-19 patients, the potential clinical utility of hs-cTnT appears to rest in ruling out inpatient mortality. This finding, if prospectively validated in a larger study, may allow hs-cTnT to become an important biomarker to facilitate admission-avoidance and early safe discharge.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers
  • COVID-19* / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Troponin T
  • Troponin*


  • Troponin
  • Biomarkers
  • Troponin T

Grants and funding

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.