Elevated troponin levels are associated with greater risk of cardiovascular disease
An international team of researchers has found that a slight increase in the protein troponin is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. The new findings could improve the prediction of heart attack and stroke.
Acting quickly can save lives
Around 300,000 people in Germany suffer a heart attack each year. In acute cases, quick action is necessary. Timely heart attack diagnosis saves lives. Measuring the level of troponin has been part of the clinical routine in the diagnosis of heart attacks for many years. A study has now shown that slight increases in troponin are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases in healthy people. The protein complex therefore plays a special role in predicting heart attack and stroke.
Increased cardiovascular risk if the troponin level increases
Given that cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in western industrialized countries, the most accurate prediction of cardiovascular events is particularly important.
The biomarker troponin plays an important role here. Scientists reported a few months ago at the annual conference of the German Society of Cardiology (DGK) that it is of great prognostic importance in coronary artery disease (CAD).
The results of the meta-study by epidemiologist Peter Willeit from the Innsbruck University Clinic for Neurology could also make a significant contribution to prognosis and targeted prevention, according to a communication from the Medical University of Innsbruck (Austria).
Even a slight increase in the troponin level in the blood of healthy people (even within the "normal range") is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Relationship has been confirmed
As part of the study, data from the so-called PROSPER study (Pravastatin in Elderly Individuals at Risk of Vascular Disease Study) was combined and analyzed with data from a total of 154,052 test subjects from 27 further examinations from an observation period of 11.9 years.
The relationship between elevated troponin levels and a later cardiovascular event could be verified independently of other risk parameters.
Willeit carried out the study together with the Innsbruck neurologist Stefan Kiechl and PhD student Lena Tschiderer as well as other colleagues in Great Britain, Holland and Ireland.
The results of the study were recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Standard in the diagnosis of heart attacks
Cardiac troponin, which was identified in the 1960s, is formed in the heart muscle cells and released into the blood in the event of damage, such as a heart attack.
The measurement of the troponin level is the gold standard for diagnosing heart attacks and is also used as an indicator of the extent of heart muscle damage.
The development of ever more sensitive measurement methods now enables the reliable detection of troponin levels in very low concentrations.
“With these new assays, the troponin level can be measured and displayed by the majority of the general population today. We therefore took a closer look at his role as a marker for cardiac stress or increased cardiac stress, ”says Willeit.
Targeted prognosis and therapy adjustment
"In the third of the subjects in which the troponin level was highest, the risk of developing cardiovascular disease was increased by at least 43 percent," said the study author.
"Our data indicate an increased risk not only for the development of a heart attack, but also for the occurrence of a stroke," said Willeit.
The connection between moderately elevated troponin levels in apparently healthy volunteers and the occurrence of cardiovascular disease, which was thus emphatically confirmed, could be of valuable use in the future for a better prognosis and targeted prevention. (ad)