What is a troponin test?
A troponin test measures the level of troponin in your blood. Troponin is a type of protein found in the muscles of your heart. Troponin isn't normally found in the blood. When heart muscles become damaged, troponin is sent into the bloodstream. As heart damage increases, greater amounts of troponin are released in the blood.
High levels of troponin in the blood may mean you are having or recently had a heart attack. A heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart gets blocked. This blockage can be deadly. But quick diagnosis and treatment can save your life.
Other names: cardiac troponin I (cTnI), cardiac troponin T (cTnT), cardiac troponin (cTN), cardiac-specific troponin I and troponin T
What is it used for?
This test is most often used to diagnose a heart attack. It is sometimes used to monitor angina, a condition that limits blood flow to the heart and causes chest pain. Angina sometimes leads to a heart attack.
This test may also be used after you were diagnosed with a heart attack and admitted to a hospital. Testing is usually repeated two or more times in a 24-hour period. This is done to see if there are any changes in troponin levels over time.
Why do I need a troponin test?
You may need this test if you have been admitted to the emergency room with symptoms of a heart attack. These symptoms include:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Pain in other parts of the body, including your arm, back, jaw, or neck
- Trouble breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
If you have symptoms of a heart attack, call 911 immediately.
What happens during a troponin test?
A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.
Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?
You don't need any special preparations for a troponin test.
Are there any risks to the test?
There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.
What do the results mean?
If your results show normal troponin levels for 12 hours after chest pain has started, it's unlikely that your symptoms were caused by a heart attack.
If even a small level of troponin is found in your blood, it may mean there is some damage to your heart. If high levels of troponin are found in one or more tests over time, it probably means you had a heart attack. Other reasons for higher than normal troponin levels include:
If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.
Is there anything else I need to know about a troponin test?
New studies show that a new type of troponin blood test may be able to identify people who are at greater risk for heart attacks before they even have symptoms. The test is able to detect very small amounts of troponin.
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The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.