PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For people in the emergency room with chest pain, blood tests can be helpful in making the diagnosis of heart attack.
Tests called CPK and troponin followed over 24 hours can be important to the diagnosis.
“Each one has its way, its time at which it rises and falls and we track those,” explains Dr. Indu Poornima, a cardiologist at Allegheny General Hospital.
Troponin is a protein found in the muscles that move your bones, but also in the heart muscle. After it’s damaged from a heart attack, the level of this protein in the bloodstream goes up.
If the troponin level goes higher than a certain cut-off, this supports the diagnosis of a heart attack.
A Scottish study in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at lowering the cut off. Turns out, more people with troponin levels above the new cut off were diagnosed with heart attacks or had cardiac events within the year.
“At a lower threshold, these patients are still at high risk,” says Dr. Poornima.
The problem is the lower cut off also included people who had high levels for other reasons such as severely out of control diabetes and severe infections.
Changing the standard measurement hasn’t happened yet, but as more studies come out with similar results, hospitals may change what is considered normal troponin and what is considered high.