A comparison of cardiac troponin T delta change methods and the importance of the clinical context in the assessment of acute coronary syndrome

Paul Simpson, Rosy Tirimacco, Penelope Cowley, May Siew, Narelle Berry, Jill Tate, Philip Tideman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The management of patients presenting with symptoms suggestive of acute coronary syndrome is a significant challenge for clinicians. Guidelines for the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction require a rise and/or fall of cardiac troponin, along with other criteria. Knowing what constitutes a significant delta change from baseline is still unclear and the literature is varied.  
Methods: We compared three methods for determining cardiac troponin delta changes (relative, absolute and z-scores) for detecting acute myocardial infarction in 806 patients presenting to an emergency department with symptoms suggestive of acute coronary syndrome. Blood specimens were collected at admission and 2, 3, 4 and 6 h postadmission and tested on the Roche Elecsys high-sensitivity troponin T assay.  
Results: A positive diagnosis for acute myocardial infarction was found in 39 (4.8%) patients. ROC AUC showed better performance for the absolute and z-score delta change (0.959–0.988 and 0.956–0.988, respectively) compared with relative delta change (0.921–0.960) at all time points in the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction. Optimal timing for the second sample was at 4–6 h postadmission.  

Conclusions: Although not statistically significant, the results show a trend of absolute and z-score delta change performing better than relative delta change for the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction. The z-score approach allows for a single cut-off value across multiple high-sensitivity assays which could be useful in the clinical setting. Our study also highlighted the importance of interpreting cardiac troponin changes in the clinical context with a combination of the patient’s clinical history and electrocardiogram.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-707
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Clinical Biochemistry
Issue number6
Early online date30 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019

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