Troponin points to heart risk in healthy adults

Cardiac troponin T (cTnT) levels could be used to detect heart disease in people with no symptoms, US researchers believe.

MRI scans were used to look for signs of structural heart disease (Photograph: SPL)
MRI scans were used to look for signs of structural heart disease (Photograph: SPL)

Dr James De Lemos and his team from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in Dallas found cTnT levels were associated with structural heart disease in seemingly healthy adults.

Dr De Lemos said the test was among the most powerful predictors of death in the general population that researchers have so far found.

The researchers studied 3,546 people 30-65 years old. They measured cTnT levels using standard measures and highly sensitive assays.

Participants were then studied for 6.4 years and were given MRI screens of cardiac structure and function.

Dr De Lemos and his team found that cTnT was detectable in around 25% of adults in the general population and was associated with structural heart disease and risk of subsequent all-cause mortality.

They said: 'Higher cTnT levels, below the detection range of currently available assays, may be considered a marker of "end organ" cardiovascular damage from a variety of risk factors and pathological cardiac and vascular processes.'

In a separate paper, the researchers reported that the test also seems to predict heart risk in people aged over 65.

They found detectable cTnT levels in most older adults. Higher concentrations, within the normal range for younger adults, were associated with a greater burden of cardiovascular risk factors and evidence of cardiac disease.

The authors said: 'Independent of these comorbidities, cTnT concentrations were associated with risk of new-onset HF and cardiovascular death.

'Furthermore, longitudinal changes in cTnT concentrations were common in this cohort and correspond with a dynamic change in risk over time.'

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