A recent study focused on the application of a high-sensitivity troponin I blood test from Abbott, Abbott Park, Ill, suggests that use of the test in combination with current heart disease assessments may be able to predict the chances of a person with no symptoms experiencing a cardiac event—years before it occurs.1

Using data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study—an epidemiologic study of the causes of atherosclerosis—the researchers concluded that adding the high-sensitivity troponin I test to routine physical assessments of healthy middle-aged and older adults would permit clinicians to better predict the patients’ chances of developing heart disease.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally.2 Yet heart disease can often be prevented if identified early and managed through lifestyle changes and medication, as needed.

Troponin blood tests are widely used to help physicians detect heart attacks. But as healthcare systems look for ways to make the shift from treating the symptoms of heart disease to preventing its onset, research now indicates that measuring a person’s troponin levels may provide key information for predicting a person’s chances of experiencing a cardiac event.

To determine a person’s risk for developing heart disease, physicians currently look at indirect heart health factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and family history of heart disease. By contrast, Abbott’s high-sensitivity Troponin I blood test looks at a protein that comes directly from the heart and is found at elevated levels in the blood after the heart muscle has been injured.

In their recent analysis, the researchers found that elevated troponin I levels detectable by a high-sensitivity troponin I test are associated with future cardiac events, including coronary heart disease, heart attack, heart failure hospitalization, stroke, and death. The increased risk was independent of such typical heart disease risk factors as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes, and smoking.

Compared to adults with low levels of troponin I, the study found that adults with elevated levels of troponin I were more than twice as likely to experience a cardiac disease event, such as a heart attack; almost three times more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke; and more than four times more likely to be hospitalized with heart failure.

“Studies increasingly show the value of measuring troponin levels in people who have not been diagnosed with heart disease to help better determine their future risk,” says Christie M. Ballantyne, MD, professor of medicine and director of the center for cardiometabolic disease prevention at the Baylor College of Medicine, and corresponding author of the study. “This study supports the value of adding high-sensitivity troponin I blood tests to current cardiovascular risk assessments to better identify patients who might benefit from more intensive steps to improve their heart health, like improved diet and exercise.”

As part of their recent analysis of the ARIC study, the researchers looked at stored samples from 8,121 adults aged 54 to 73 years old with no known heart disease at the time their blood was drawn, in 1998. Abbott’s high-sensitivity troponin I test was used to measure the troponin I levels in the stored samples, and 85% of participants had detectable troponin. The health records of study participants were evaluated for approximately 15 years, through 2013, to determine whether they had experienced a cardiac event.

The study also measured troponin T, another heart protein, using a different manufacturer’s test. The study found that levels of the two troponins were not strongly correlated with one another.

“Advancements in our diagnostic technology are allowing us to see levels of troponin that may indicate early signs of injury to the heart years before heart disease becomes overt or symptoms appear,” says Agim Beshiri, MD, senior medical director for global medical and scientific affairs at Abbott Diagnostics. “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.”

For further information, visit Abbott.


  1. Jia X, Sun W, Hoogeveen RC, et al. High-sensitivity troponin I and incident coronary events, stroke, heart failure hospitalization, and mortality in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. Circulation. 139(23):2642–2653; doi: 10.1161/circulationaha.118.038772.
  1. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) [fact sheet, online]. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2017. Available at: www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cardiovascular-diseases-(cvds). Accessed June 21, 2019.

Featured image: High-sensitivity troponin I test kit from Abbott.