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High Troponin Levels

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 31, 2022.


What you need to know about high troponin levels:

High troponin levels can be a sign of a heart attack or other heart damage. Troponin is a protein found in all muscles. Some kinds of troponin are only found in the heart muscle. Damage to the heart causes troponin to be released into the bloodstream. Heart conditions that can cause high troponin levels include heart attack, heart failure, and myocarditis (heart inflammation). Conditions that stress the heart, such as a lung clot, kidney disease, or sepsis, can also cause high levels.

How troponin levels are measured:

A blood test is used to check for troponin. A highly sensitive troponin test may be used. Troponin levels are normally too low to be detected, except by the highly sensitive test. If an elevated troponin level is detected, it may mean some kind of heart damage has occurred. An elevated level on the highly sensitive test does not necessarily mean you are suffering from heart damage. But it can mean you are at a higher risk for a future cardiovascular problem. The test then measures the amount in the blood. Levels can range from low to very high. The level can rise within a few hours of heart damage and stay high for up to 2 weeks. The test is most commonly used if a heart attack is suspected.

How to prepare for this test:

  • You usually do not need to do anything to prepare.
  • Describe your symptoms, such as chest pain or heaviness, shortness of breath, nausea, or jaw, back, or arm pain. Tell healthcare providers if symptoms are constant or come and go. Include when the symptoms started. Troponin may not be found if the test is done too soon after a heart injury.
  • Tell your providers about all medicines you are currently taking. Be sure to include all prescription and over-the-counter medicines, herbal remedies, vitamins, and supplements.

What happens during the test:

Your blood will be drawn and checked for troponin when you arrive.

  • If an elevated troponin level is found, the level may be checked several times over the next few hours. The level may be checked when chest pain or other symptoms are happening. More than one test showing high troponin levels can mean heart damage, such as a heart attack. You may need more tests to confirm heart damage and to plan treatment. These include an ECG, stress test, and echocardiogram.
  • If troponin is not found but you have symptoms, it will be checked again in a couple of hours. Several tests over 12 hours showing no elevation of troponin means you are likely not having a heart attack. Healthcare providers may need to find another cause for your symptoms if they continue.

What to expect after the test:

Healthcare providers will talk to you about next steps. This will depend on what the test results show. If you have known angina, a high troponin level means you are at risk for a heart attack or other heart problem. Healthcare providers will want to monitor your condition more closely.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:

  • You have any of the following signs of a heart attack:
    • Squeezing, pressure, or pain in your chest
    • You may also have any of the following:
      • Discomfort or pain in your back, neck, jaw, stomach, or arm
      • Shortness of breath
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Lightheadedness or a sudden cold sweat

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have known angina and it is happening more frequently, lasting longer, or causing worse pain.
  • You have shortness of breath at rest.

Call your doctor or cardiologist if:

  • You have new or worse swelling in your feet or ankles.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

For support and more information:

  • American Heart Association
    7272 Greenville Avenue
    Dallas , TX 75231-4596
    Phone: 1- 800 - 242-8721
    Web Address:

Follow up with your doctor or cardiologist as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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