Chest pain is a common complaint encountered by Emergency Medicine physicians in the emergency department (ED). History taking, electrocardiograms, and cardiac biomarkers are the mainstays of the evaluation process of patients who present to the ED with symptoms of an acute coronary syndrome. Cardiac troponin is the primary biomarker used for the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction. In January 2017, high sensitivity cardiac troponins (hs-cTns) were approved for use in the United States. These markers have increased sensitivity and can more rapidly detect myocardial injury, making them very useful in the ED. However, despite improved sensitivity, elevations in hs-cTn can occur in a large number of patients who are not currently experiencing an acute myocardial infarction. As a result, it is important that clinicians understand the value of serial cardiac biomarker measurements and how to incorporate hs-cTn levels below the limit of detection into clinical decision-making. A large percentage of these low-risk patients end up having negative cardiac work-ups. This article will include a discussion on how to utilize common risk stratification tools in the ED to identify cohorts of patients suitable for discharge without additional testing. ED physicians must understand the limitations and benefits of hs-cTn levels and how to incorporate the information obtained from these biomarkers into risk scores in order to strengthen disposition decisions and safely discharge patients from the ED.
- acute coronary syndrome
- cardiac troponin
- emergency department
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine