Objective: To assess the degree and sources of current diagnostic inaccuracy of serial conventional cardiac markers and ECGs compared with the new diagnostic criteria for myocardial infarction, with specific reference to physician specialty and the prognostic value of troponin T.
Design: Prospective, blinded observational study.
Setting: University hospital.
Patients and interventions: All suspected cardiac chest pain admissions for six months, with additional blinded measurement of CK-MB mass and troponin T. World Health Organization and new criteria myocardial infarction diagnoses were made by an expert panel.
Main outcome measures: Diagnostic adjustment by expert panel; completeness of serial measurements; six months prognosis.
Results: A complete set of serial cardiac markers was not taken in 38.7% of patients, this being twice as likely when managed by non-cardiologists than by cardiologists (p < 0.0001). The WHO myocardial infarction diagnosis was adjusted by the expert panel in 4% of cases, this being 90% more likely in patients admitted under non-cardiologists (p = 0.026). The new criteria for myocardial infarction identified an additional 27.3% of infarcts, with a diagnostic alteration in 12.0% of the cohort; 45.2% of these cases had a potentially preventable cause for diagnostic adjustment. Only troponin T (p = 0.0004), ST depression (p = 0.003), and heart failure (p = 0.016) were independently predictive of prognosis.
Conclusions: Chest pain patients appear less likely to be fully and accurately assessed by non-cardiologists than by cardiologists. The new criteria for myocardial infarction identify ~25% of additional patients as MI, with potential additional advantages related to simplicity of diagnostic protocols. Troponin T was the most potent predictor of six month prognosis in an unselected cohort of chest pain admissions.
- myocardial infarction
- AST, aspartate transaminase
- CK, creatine kinase
- CK-MB, creatine kinase isoenzyme MB
- cTnT, cardiac troponin T
- LDH, lactate dehydrogenase
- MACE, major adverse cardiovascular events
- UAP, unstable angina pectoris
- WHO, World Health Organization
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