Breakthrough blood test – High Sensitivity Troponin I, will help save countless lives!
By Helly Bartolome Hernandez Marin, M.D.
Previously doctors used various blood tests to confirm the diagnosis of myocardial infarction after the patient experiences the symptoms. However, recent research has shown the usefulness of a blood test to predict the chances for a heart attack or stroke years before the patient has any signs or symptoms. It is called High Sensitivity Troponin I test.
This blood test was implemented as part of an Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study designed to determine the causes and clinical implications of arterial obstruction due to fat deposits.
The study included more than 8,000 American men and women aged 54 to 74 years who underwent blood tests to determine troponin levels. The results showed that people who did not show signs of heart disease and had high levels of troponin I was more likely to experience cardiac events such as heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.
The enzyme that indicates heart damage
Enzymes are proteins synthesized in the body, which are responsible for accelerating various chemical reactions.
After the heart cells are damaged, enzymes inside are released into the bloodstream. This allows doctors to identify the presence of heart damage with a blood test.
The most reliable enzymes for the determination of cardiac damage are troponin T (TnT) and troponin I (TnI). Troponin levels are usually so low that they cannot be detected, so a positive troponin test usually means heart damage.
The determination of the two types of troponin allows to obtain additional information and to establish more accurately the cardiovascular risk of the patient.
The realization of this test is already approved in Europe to assess the risk of future cardiovascular events. In the U.S., it has not yet been approved, but very important advances have been made, especially with regard to its application in the prevention of heart failure prevention.
The study also showed that this test is even more effective in predicting future heart problems when it is included with the results of a cardiovascular risk calculator, which is often used to calculate 10-year risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Other health problems
According to a study recently published in The BMJ, high levels of troponin not only indicate heart problems. This study included 1,080 patients and showed that 20 percent of people who had high troponin levels did not have signs of cardiovascular disease. However, they had other health problems, such as kidney failure, liver failure, and even acute infections.
Many clinical conditions cause elevated troponins, so in some cases, this test can yield false positives.
However, the new, very sensitive tests that can detect very small elevations of this marker in patients who are otherwise considered healthy may be useful to establish early treatment and prevent the development of myocardial infarction or stroke in several years.
Changes in lifestyle make the difference
Although there are non-modifiable risk factors for the development of cardiovascular diseases, such as sex, age, and family history, there are several measures we can take to reduce the risk of suffering from these diseases. Diet, exercise, and weight loss are the most effective methods. Not smoking is also an important factor.