Some blood tests, called cardiac enzyme tests, can check whether the heart muscle is damaged, and indicate if a person has had a heart attack.
Types of cardiac enzyme tests
The most common test is troponin. This test has replaced other cardiac enzyme tests previously done, as it is more accurate.
What is being tested?
Troponin is a protein found in the heart muscle. When the heart muscle is injured, troponin is released into the bloodstream and the level that can be detected goes up. This can happen during and after a heart attack. Often the test will be done more than once to monitor for damage.
Why would I need this test?
You could need this type of test if your doctor suspects that you might be having, or have had, a heart attack or other kinds of damage to your heart muscle. This test might be done if there is an abnormality on a heart tracing (electrocardiogram or ECG) that suggests heart attack or heart muscle damage.
How to prepare for this test
No preparation is needed for this test.
Understanding your results
You should discuss the results with your doctor to understand what they mean specifically for you.
A high level of cardiac enzymes might indicate a heart attack, but your signs and symptoms, and what your ECG shows, are also necessary for a firm diagnosis.
Visit the Pathology Tests Explained website for more information about testing troponin.
About blood testing
Visit our 'Guide to blood testing' to learn more about blood tests in general with information such as:
- what to consider before having the test
- what happens during a blood test
- results accuracy
- blood tests cost
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Last reviewed: July 2020