Q. I'm 73-year-old man with heart disease (I had a coronary bypass when I was 45). I pay close attention to my health and exercise regularly. Recently, I went to the emergency room with chest pain. Although my electrocardiogram and, later, a stress echocardiogram showed no problems, my troponin was elevated, ranging from 57 to 63 ng/L on several repeated tests. Should I worry about the elevated troponin? Is there a way to lower this level?
A. Troponins, which are proteins involved in muscle contraction, are found almost exclusively in heart and skeletal muscle cells. During a heart attack, reduced blood flow damages parts of the heart muscle, which then releases troponins into the bloodstream. That's why emergency room physicians routinely check blood troponin levels in people with suspected heart attacks.
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About the Author
Christopher P. Cannon, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Heart Letter; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing
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