Defining a reference population to determine the 99th percentile of a contemporary sensitive cardiac troponin I assay

  • BACKGROUND: Diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (AMI) according to the universal definition is based on ischemic symptoms, imaging findings and elevated myocardial necrosis markers, preferably cardiac troponin I/T with diagnostic threshold representing the 99th percentile of a reference population. It is not clearly defined if this should be an unselected population-based or a healthy cohort with respect to cardiac diseases. Aim of the current study was to describe the distribution of troponin I using a sensitive assay and to evaluate the impact of cardiac diseases and cardiovascular risk factors in apparently healthy individuals.

    METHODS: Troponin I was determined using a contemporary sensitive assay (TnI Ultra, Siemens) with 10% coefficient of variation (0.03 ng/mL) below the published 99th percentile (0.04 ng/mL) in 5000 participants (49.2% female) of the Gutenberg Health Study, a community-based, prospective, observational single-center cohort study. The calculated 99 th percentile cut-offs were tested in 1818 patients with suspected AMI.

    RESULTS: Troponin I concentration representing the 99th percentile of the overall study population was 0.04 ng/mL. Excluding individuals with prevalent cardiovascular disease lowers the 99th percentile to 0.034 ng/mL. Exclusion of individuals with traditional risk factors or elevated natriuretic peptide leads to further reduction with 0.029/0.028 ng/mL. These lower cut-offs detect more patients at risk in individuals with suspected AMI. Correlations of troponin I with age, gender and traditional risk factors were observed.

    CONCLUSIONS: Troponin I concentrations in apparently healthy individuals are dependent on prevalent cardiovascular diseases, traditional risk factors, gender and age. Application of corresponding cut-offs in diagnosis of AMI alters the group of patients potentially at risk.

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