Should general practitioners order troponin tests?
Cardiac troponin I and T are the preferred biomarkers for assessing myocardial injury. Understanding the pathobiology of troponin and the timing of troponin testing is fundamental to the clinical utility of these biomarkers, as troponin and its kinetics are central to the universal definition of acute myocardial infarction (AMI).1 Troponin levels become elevated in serum within a few hours of an AMI, and they remain elevated for up to 7–10 days.2 However, numerous other conditions may elevate troponin levels, so it remains essential that the results of troponin tests be interpreted with clinical findings and electrocardiography results.3 The dynamics of troponin levels (rise and/or fall over time) help distinguish AMI from non-AMI conditions, thus serial troponin testing is the standard approach recommended for assessing patients with suspected acute coronary syndrome (ACS).4 In this article, we explore troponin testing in general practice, including problems faced by laboratories that offer testing in this context.
The absolutist stance
One stance on this topic is that general practitioners should never order a troponin test. The basis of this argument is that the only widely accepted clinical indication for measurement of troponin levels is suspected ACS, which should prompt referral to hospital based…