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Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM)

Published in Association with the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM)

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Volume 38, Issue 3 (Mar 2000)


Laboratory Diagnosis of Patients with Acute Chest Pain

Ilkka Penttilä / Karri Penttilä / Tapio Rantanen
Published Online: 2005-06-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/CCLM.2000.027


The enzyme activities of creatine kinase (CK), its isoenzyme MB (CK-MB) and of lactate dehydrogenase isoenzyme 1 (LD-1) have been used for years in diagnosing patients with chest pain in order to differentiate patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI) from non-AMI patients. These methods are easy to perform as automated analyses, but they are not specific for cardiac muscle damage. During the early 90's the situation changed. First creatine kinase MB mass (CK-MB mass) replaced the measurement of CK-MB activity. Subsequently cardiac-specific proteins troponin T (cTnT) and troponin I (cTnI) appeared on the scene, displacing LD-1 analysis. However, troponin concentrations in blood increase only from four to six hours after onset of chest pain. Therefore a rapid marker such as myoglobin, fatty acid binding protein or glycogen phosphorylase BB could be used in early diagnosis of AMI. On the other hand, CK-MB isoforms alone may also be useful in rapid diagnosis of cardiac muscle damage. Myoglobin, CK-MB mass, cTnT and cTnI are nowadays widely used in diagnosing patients with acute chest pain. Myoglobin is not cardiac-specific and therefore requires supplementation with some other analyses such as troponins to support the myoglobin value. Troponins are very highly cardiac-specific. Only the sera of some patients with severe renal failure, which requires hemodialysis, have elevated cTnT and /or cTnI without there being any evidence of cardiac damage. On the other hand, the latest studies have shown that elevated troponin levels in sera of hemodialysis patients point to an increased risk of future cardiac events in a similar manner to the elevated troponin values in sera of patients with unstable angina pectoris. In addition, the bedside tests for cTnT and cTnI alone or together with myoglobin and CK-MB mass can be used instead of quantitative analyses in the diagnosis of patients with chest pain. These rapid tests are easy to perform and they do not require expensive instrumentation. For routine clinical laboratory practice we suggest that in diagnosis of patients with chest pain, myoglobin and CK-MB mass measurements should be performed whenever they are requested (24 h/day) and cTnT or cTnI on admission to the hospital and then 4–6 and 12 hours later.

About the article

Published Online: 2005-06-01

Published in Print: 2000-03-25

Citation Information: Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, ISSN (Print) 1434-6621, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/CCLM.2000.027. Export Citation

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