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?
The 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.
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
After you are first tested, you will probably get retested two or more times over the next 24 hours. This is done to see if there are any changes in your troponin levels over time.
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?
Normal troponin levels in the blood are usually so low, they can’t be found on most blood tests. 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:
- Congestive heart failure
- Kidney disease
- Blood clot in your lungs
If you have questions about your results, talk to your health care provider.
Is there anything else I need to know about a troponin test?
If you have symptoms of a heart attack at home or elsewhere, call 911 immediately. Quick medical attention could save your life.