While the presence of high levels of troponin in the bloodstream has been used to help detect acute heart attacks in the emergency room, Abbott says that new study data employing its high-sensitivity test could predict a person’s chances of having a cardiac event years into the future, even in patients showing no symptoms.
The medtech giant said the research suggests adding the test to routine physicals of healthy middle-aged and older adults to help ward off the onset of heart disease.
Data from the decades-long Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study showed that small, yet elevated levels of a specific protein—troponin-I, released by the heart muscle—were associated with future cases of heart failure, stroke, coronary disease and death.
Those increased risks were independent of common factors such as high cholesterol levels and blood pressure, as well as a history of smoking and diabetes. Additionally, there was a stronger correlation to future events in women compared to men.
The large-scale ARIC epidemiological study included a group of 8,121 adults between 54 and 73 years old, who were followed for about 15 years after having their blood drawn in 1998 when they had no known heart disease. The stored samples were later tested using Abbott’s High Sensitive Troponin-I diagnostic, and the results were published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.
Compared to adults with lower levels of troponin-I, the study found those with higher amounts were more than twice as likely to have a serious event such as a heart attack, and were nearly three times more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke. Overall, they were more than four times as likely to be hospitalized with heart failure later in life.
"Having a clearer picture of a patient's heart health can serve as a wake-up call—empowering people to work with their doctors to take control of their heart health and possibly prevent a future cardiac event," Agim Beshiri, Abbott Diagnostics’ senior medical director for global medical and scientific affairs, said in a statement.
Abbott's test has received a CE mark for cardiac risk assessment, but is not yet commercially available in the U.S., though the company is pursuing registration.