Troponin test

Other names: Cardiac-Specific Troponin l; Troponin T; TnI; TnT

Troponins are forms of protein, which are found in skeletal and cardiac muscle; there are three forms of troponin, including troponin C, troponin T and troponin I. The three forms of troponin help to control muscle contraction. Troponin I and troponin T are found in the heart; they are not normally detectable in the blood; however, when the heart muscles are damaged, the proteins are released into the bloodstream. If a patient has a heart attack, the levels of cardiac troponin in the blood start to increase around three hours after the attack; they usually return to normal after two weeks.

Why is the test used?

The test is used to determine whether a patient has had a heart attack; in most cases, the test is used by doctors in accident and emergency departments when a patient is admitted with chest pain and doctors suspect that they have had a heart attack or suffered damage to their heart muscles. The troponin test is helpful because it is specific to heart muscle damage, rather than other tests, which reveal damage to other muscles in the body. The test may be repeated periodically to monitor the levels of troponin.

The test may also be used on patients with unstable angina, which occurs when small blood clots form in the blood vessels, causing chest pain (the pain subsides when the clot disintegrates); the test results can help to determine suitable treatments.

How is the test carried out?

The test is done by taking a sample of blood from a vein in the patient’s arm; a needle is inserted into the vein and the blood is drawn out into the syringe. Once the sample has been collected, the blood will be bottled, labelled and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

What do the test results show?

In a healthy individual, troponin is not detectable in the blood. Increased levels of troponin indicate damage to the heart; as a general rule, the bigger the increase, the more damage has been done. If the results show a large increase in troponin levels, it is very likely that the patient has had a heart attack. If troponin levels are normal, it is very unlikely that the patient has had a heart attack. Other tests will always be used in order to reach an accurate diagnosis.

Other health conditions, including severe infections, kidney disease, congestive heart failure, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) and other chronic inflammatory conditions, may also cause troponin levels to increase.

Specific Blood Tests

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