Doctors are reporting a spike in the number of patients visiting hospitals with chest pain, fearing a heart attack. Many doctors are now utilizing troponin tests to help detect heart attacks in these patients. This test measures the levels of the enzyme troponin in the blood, which is released from the heart muscle when it is damaged due to a heart attack. The test is highly sensitive and can detect even minor heart attacks as soon as six hours after a heart attack, which an ECG or echocardiogram may miss. Dr. Sunil Kumar S, an interventional cardiologist at Manipal Hospital Hebbal, states that “our team tests the troponin levels of every patient who comes in with chest pain, as this is one of the ways to detect or rule out a heart attack.”
Recent research has found that troponin tests can be a valuable tool for accurately detecting mild heart attacks in patients presenting with chest pain. Troponin-I and Troponin-T are enzymes released into the bloodstream when the heart muscle is injured. The amount of troponin present in the blood is an indicator of the severity of the attack. If the troponin levels are abnormally high, it may suggest a severe injury to the heart muscle. After a heart attack, it takes time for troponin levels to increase in the blood. Up to three hours after the onset of symptoms, a patient may not have any detectable troponin levels, even if they had a heart attack. If a patient seeks attention within three hours and the ECG, echocardiogram, and troponin levels are normal, they should be monitored for the next three to four hours and repeat the tests. If the tests are normal, the patient can be safely sent home. Troponin levels can remain elevated for up to two weeks after an attack, which makes it a valuable tool for diagnosing mild heart attacks.
Medical professionals are seeing an increased awareness in patients seeking attention for chest pain. A patient may undergo an ECG and echocardiogram to diagnose a mild heart attack; however, elevated troponin levels can help provide an accurate diagnosis. Troponin tests are sensitive and reliable and can detect cardiac events earlier, improving outcomes and saving lives.
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