Retrospective cause analysis of troponin I elevation in non-CAD patients: Special emphasis on sepsis

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Troponin I is one of the most commonly tested biochemical markers in the emergency room (ER) and in the hospital setting. Besides coronary artery disease (CAD), demand ischemia with underlying tachycardia, anemia, hypertensive emergency, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, sepsis, and pulmonary embolism have also been reported to cause troponin I elevations. Few reports have excluded patients with CAD, and no study has summarized the proportion of these factors relative to an increased troponin I level.


The aim of this retrospective study was to investigate the level of contribution of causative factors in troponin I elevation. Charts of patients tested for troponin I during an ER visit or during hospitalization were collected. Patients with known CAD, abnormal stress tests, cardiac catheterizations, or discharge without an adequate cardiac evaluation were excluded. Logistic regression was used to identify predictors of elevated troponin I levels.


A total of 586 patients were investigated in this study. Age, hemoglobin (Hb), heart rate (HR), glomerularfiltration rate, atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure (CHF), and sepsis were significant predictors of elevated troponin I by analysis in univariate logistic regression (all P < .001). In multivariate logistic regression, sepsis, CHF, age, Hb, and HR were independent predictors of troponin I (all P < .01). A simple clinical scoring system was generated with 1 score on patients with age ≥ 60, Hb < 10 g/dL, and HR ≥ 100 beats per minute (bpm). The prevalence of elevated troponin I was 4%, 16%, 38%, and 50% for patients with scores of 0, 1, 2, and 3, respectively. In patients without sepsis and CHF, the chances of elevated troponin I were 2%, 11%, 28%, and 43%.


Sepsis was found to be the strongest independent cause of elevated troponin I levels in non-CAD patients. The scoring system composed of age, hemoglobin (Hb), and heart rate (HR) can assist clinical evaluation of elevated troponin I test in non-CAD patients.

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