Background: In patients with acute coronary syndromes, it is desirable to identify a sensitive serum marker that is closely related to the degree of myocardial damage, provides prognostic information, and can be measured rapidly. We studied the prognostic value of cardiac troponin I levels in patients with unstable angina or non-Q-wave myocardial infarction.
Methods: In a multicenter study, blood specimens from 1404 symptomatic patients were analyzed for cardiac troponin I, a serum marker not detected in the blood of healthy persons. The relation between mortality at 42 days and the level of cardiac troponin I in the specimen obtained on enrollment was determined both before and after adjustment for baseline characteristics.
Results: The mortality rate at 42 days was significantly higher in the 573 patients with cardiac troponin I levels of at least 0.4 ng per milliliter (21 deaths, or 3.7 percent) than in the 831 patients with cardiac troponin I levels below 0.4 ng per milliliter (8 deaths, or 1.0 percent; P < 0.001). There were statistically significant increases in mortality with increasing levels of cardiac troponin I (P < 0.001). Each increase of 1 ng per milliliter in the cardiac troponin I level was associated with a significant increase (P = 0.03) in the risk ratio for death after adjustment for the base-line characteristics that were independently predictive of mortality (ST-segment depression and age > or = 65 years).
Conclusions: In patients with acute coronary syndromes, cardiac troponin I levels provide useful prognostic information and permit the early identification of patients with an increased risk of death.