Posts Tagged ‘troponin’

Is there a bio chemical way to measure time window in STEMI ?

It seems so. In this era of hyperacute PCIs  , we are supposed to diagnose STEMI very early .If you wait for troponin  to assit you in diagnosis it  implies  one has missed the golden hour already (At least Three  golden hours to be precise !)

Cardiac enzymes have a unique value in timing a STEMI as  time of   onset of  chest pain is   unrealiable

as the patient (Even the physician !)  may not be able to differentiate pre infarction angina from infarct pain.

In these situation cardiac enzymes provide us a clue.

The time of realse of these molecules are fairly predictable.

  • Myoglobin -2 -3hours
  • Troponin elvation -3 -6 hours
  • CPK –  8 -12hours

Remember  ECG  rarely show a  time lag   in diagnosing STEMI  !


For  maximum benefit . . . try to perform the  primary PCI before the troponin  appear in blood .

Does this  sound a crazy   tip ? What to do . . . truths are very often crazy .

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  1. Do 64slice MDCT  in all patients who has  a coronary event and follow it up with catheter based CAG.
  2. Use liberally the new biochemical marker ,  serum  B-naturetic peptide (BNP) to diagnose cardiac failure in lieu of basal auscultation.
  3. Advice  cardiac resynchronisation therapy in all patients  who are in class 4 cardiac failure with a wide qrs complex .
  4. As it is may be considered a  crime to administer empirical  heparin, do ventilation perfusion scan in all cases with suspected pulmonary embolism.
  5. Do serial CPK MB and troponin levels in all patients with well  established  STEMI .
  6. Open up all occluded coronary arteries irrespective  of symptoms and muscle viability.
  7. Consider  ablation of pulmonary veins as an  initial strategy in  patients with recurrent idiopathic AF. If it is not feasible  atleast occlude their left atrial appendage with watch man  device.
  8. Never tell  your patients   the  truths  about the  diet , exercise &  lifestyle modification (That can  cure most of the early hypertension) . Instead encourage the  use of  newest ARBs  or even  try direct renin antoagonists   to treat all those patients in  stage 1 hypertension.
  9. Avoid regular heparin in acute coronary syndromes   as  it  is a disgrace to use it  in today’s world. Replace all prescription of heparin with  enoxaparine  or  still better ,  fondaparinux  whenever  possible.
  10. Finally never discharge  a  heftily  insured patient   until  he completes all the  cardiology investigations  that are available in your hospital  .

Coming soon :  10 more ways to  increase cost of cardiology care . . .beyond common man’s reach

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How good is Troponin T or I  to rule out acute coronary syndrome in the emergency room  when a  patient presents  within two to three hours after the onset of symptoms ?

  1. Very useful
  2. Useful
  3. Rarely useful
  4. Not useful
  5. Not at all useful

The answer is  5 , can be 3 or  4 , never 1 or 2 !

If you are surprised with the answer

Findout why , read further



troponin-i-troponin-t-2Final message

Troponin has a definite diagnostic  and prognostic value in  STEMI or NSTEMI  but relying on a single normal troponin level very early after an ACS can be . . . futile.

Realis,   diagnosis of ACS , especially  STEMI , is primarily by ECG and clinical features . Even in NSTEMI biomarkers help primarily to risk stratify the event. Bio markers come into picture only in borderline  ECGs and in baseline ECG defect like LBBB/Pacing rhythm .

It should be recognised , the major draw back of cardiac markers is , it  does not represent real time cardiac myocyte  events. (But the good old ECG has this unique property !) .The myocyte secretion & release  kinetics , the effect of  native (and pharmocological ) reperfusion make it a unreliable  marker.Apart from the time lag  , the  laboratory methods to detect these  molecule needs further refinement.

For the current day cardiologists ,  it is  required to finish off the entire treatment  of MI  within 6  hours by doing a primary PCI . It is an irony , troponin begins to appear only by  then to be detected in the blood !

Further reading

A .All about troponin


B.Troponin In aortic dissection


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Chest pain is one  of the commonest presenting symptom  in any  hospital both as  an emergency  or non emergency. Reaching an accurate diagnosis is very important. The main  purpose of evaluation of chest pain is to recognise it as cardiac or non cardiac origin . Cardiac chest pain almost always means ischemic chest pain . That is called angina. (Of course there are few important causes for non ischemic cardiac chest pain which Will be discussed later).

Standard features of typical angina.

Chest pain which falls short of typical features are called atypical chest pain . Some recommend at least three typical features to label it as angina.
After the clinical examination patients  should be categorised in one of the following .

  • Typical angina
  • Atypical chest pain
  • Non cardiac chest pain** Non cardiac chest pain is not a diagnosis. Any physician (or a specialist)  should take some effort to localise it. (Muscle, nerve , pleura , anxiety  etc) . But  generally once these patients are ruled out of cardiac pain  they become less special and are simply referred back to their  family physician, only to return back  with  another cardiac  pseudo-emergency  in a different hospital .

    Why we are diagnosing atypical chest pain liberally ?

    Currently   more number of  patients as well as  the physicians  are   aware of the looming epidemic of CAD. The other major reason is the  lack of application of mind during  foirst clinical appraisal  and examination. Many of the patients with non cardiac chest pain  (Muscle, nerve , pleura )  are termed as atypical chest pain. Though some of the popular texts use atypical  chest pain  and non cardiac chest pain interchangeably , it is not  correct to do so. For example don’t ever label a  patient with chest pain with chest wall tenderness as atypical chest pain and order a cardiac work up .It  is a poor model to  emulate , that consumes time and resources!.Instead they should be diagnosed a confident non cardiac chest pain and dealt properly.

Once a patient is diagnosed  atypical chest pain what’s next ?

They should get a  complete physical examination,ECG, and  undergo exercise stress test.   In the  screening of CAD , angina can be termed a hard sign,  atypical chest pain is a soft sign,  resting ECG is surprisingly  a soft sign again (unless you record it during chest pain). Exercise stress testing is  the ideal  investigation in evaluation of  chestpain.( 70-80% accuracy). This can be improved upon by Thallium, SPECT, stress echo etc. As of now coronary angiogram is considered the ultimate gold standard (Not pure gold !) to rule out  CAD.

It is also worthwhile to remember non anginal  chest pain can also be an emergency and life threatening

  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Pneumothorax
  • Thoracic tumors
  • Aortic aneurysm (Dissection and non dissection)  The list is not  exclusive

Final message

What do we really mean by  atypical chest pain ?

In reality we don’t mean any thing !

When a  cardiac  physician is confused or rather , unable to  rule out angina , at the same time he is not confident of calling it as non cardiac chest pain,  he has the luxury of using this terminology . It is obvious  this terminology  should  minimally  be used.  Once diagnosed  these patients  can’t carry on with this tag  for long. They should be reinvestigated , (Right from history  and clinical ex) .They should either enter the cardiac work up  protocol  or  a non cardiac source for pain should be fixed  immediately.

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