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Cardiac troponin plays an essential role in the diagnosis of myocardial infarction (MI). High-sensitivity assays for cardiac troponin, which are now in widespread clinical use, improve the accuracy of MI diagnosis, particularly for patients who present soon after the onset of symptoms. These high-sensitivity assays can detect cardiac troponin concentrations in stable, ambulatory patients. Circulating concentrations of high-sensitivity cardiac troponin (hs-cTn), even when they are well within the putative normal range, have been found to associate closely with the risk of major cardiovascular events in a wide array of cohorts. A number of these strong, consistent associations from a sampling of prospective cohort studies are outlined in table 1.1–7 These results, and others, raise the possibility that high-sensitivity assays for cardiac troponin could provide clinical utility for the prediction and prevention of cardiovascular events in stable, ambulatory patients.
What criteria should we use to determine whether hs-cTn has clinical utility in stable patients? Morrow and de Lemos outlined a number of benchmarks to use as a means of assessing the ability of a novel biomarker to improve clinical care.8 Those benchmarks, summarised here, are worth reviewing as we consider whether hs-cTn might have a role in managing ambulatory patients: (1) Can we measure cardiac troponin easily and reliably? (2) Is there a consistent, independent association between cardiac troponin and major cardiovascular events? (3) Does using cardiac troponin allow us to improve upon existing means of risk prediction or risk stratification? (4) Does using cardiac troponin allow us to identify a specific group of patients who would derive benefit from a specific …
Contributors BME wrote, conceived and designed the manuscript, drafted the manuscript, revised it for intellectual content, and gave final approval for this version to be submitted for publication. He agrees to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.
Competing interests BME serves as a consultant to Roche Diagnostics and Abbott Laboratories.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.