Traditionally, elevated troponin concentrations were synonymous with myocardial infarction. But with improvements in troponin assays, elevated concentrations without overt myocardial ischemia are now more common; this is referred to as myocardial injury. Physicians may be falsely reassured by the absence of myocardial ischemia; however, recent evidence suggests that myocardial injury is associated with even more detrimental outcomes. Accordingly, this article reviews the definition, epidemiology, differential diagnosis, diagnostic evaluation, and management of myocardial injury.
Current epidemiological evidence suggests that myocardial injury without overt ischemia represents about 60% of cases of abnormal troponin concentrations when obtained for clinical indications, and 1 in 8 patients presenting to the hospital will have evidence of myocardial injury. Myocardial injury is a concerning prognosis; the 5-year mortality rate is approximately 70%, with a major adverse cardiovascular event rate of 30% in the same period. The differential diagnosis is broad and can be divided into acute and chronic precipitants. The initial workup involves an assessment for myocardial ischemia. If infarction is ruled out, further evaluation includes a detailed history, physical examination, laboratory testing, a 12-lead electrocardiogram, and (if there is no known history of structural or valvular heart disease) an echocardiogram. Unfortunately, no consensus exists on routine management of patients with myocardial injury. Identifying and treating the underlying precipitant is the most practical approach.
Conclusion and Relevance
Myocardial injury is the most common cause of abnormal troponin results, and its incidence will likely increase with an aging population, increasing prevalence of cardiovascular comorbidities, and greater sensitivity of troponin assays. Myocardial injury represents a challenge to clinicians; however, given its serious prognosis, it warrants a thorough evaluation of its underlying precipitant. Future strategies to prevent and/or manage myocardial injury are needed.
McCarthy CP, Raber I, Chapman AR, et al. Myocardial Injury in the Era of High-Sensitivity Cardiac Troponin Assays: A Practical Approach for Clinicians. JAMA Cardiol. 2019;4(10):1034–1042. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2019.2724
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