A cardiac enzyme test is a tool used by doctors to determine if someone is having or has already had a heart attack. This test checks for levels of enzymes that are released by the heart muscle when it is injured, such as during a heart attack.
About Cardiac Enzyme Tests
Because patients reporting symptoms like chest pain or shortness of breath are very common and these symptoms can mean many different things, healthcare professionals need a way to narrow down the potential causes of such symptoms. One such test involves tracking cardiac enzymes.
Cardiac enzymes are substances that are released by the heart when it’s injured, such as during a heart attack or severe case of angina. There are several different kinds of cardiac enzymes, the most common of which is troponin, a protein released from heart cells when they’re damaged. Two types of troponin (T and I) can be measured, and they’re equally sensitive.
Reasons for a Cardiac Enzyme Test
A doctor will administer a cardiac enzyme test if you suspect you have had or are having a heart attack. Other symptoms of a heart artery blockage that might yield a cardiac enzyme test include:
- • Chest pain or pressure
- • Dizziness
- • Weakness or tiredness
- • Shortness of breath
- • Sweating and cool, clammy skin
- • Throwing up or feeling nauseous
What to Expect During a Cardiac Enzyme Test
A cardiac enzyme test is very similar to any standard blood test. The steps will go as follows:
- • Your doctor will use a thin needle to take a small amount of blood, likely from your arm near the elbow. A pinch or sting should be the extent of the discomfort you feel.
- • The blood will be tested, a process that typically only takes a few minutes.
Because cardiac enzyme tests are usually urgent, you can get your results quickly. Results are expressed in nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). This notes how much of the enzyme is present in your body. The test can detect incredibly small amounts of enzyme that have been released.
Your doctor will help you understand the test results and will give you a physical exam or other tests to get a full picture of the reasons for your symptoms. If you had a heart attack or are having one, your doctor will speak to you about treatment, medicine, lifestyle changes and follow-up care. Your doctor may request multiple enzyme tests over time to see how your levels change.
If you’ve had or are having a heart attack, or if you’re experiencing any other common symptoms of heart injury, seek immediate medical attention. Your doctor can tell you if a cardiac enzyme test might be right for you.
Our providers are board certified in general cardiology and interventional cardiology. We have over 30 providers with decades of experience in heart-related care. As a part of Utah’s largest independent physician group, we have a network of physicians who are able to care for all cardiology needs.
“What Is a Cardiac Enzyme Test?” WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/cardiac-enzymes-studies
“Cardiac Enzymes and Markers for a Heart Attack.” Patient.info. https://patient.info/health/cardiac-enzymes-and-markers-for-a-heart-attack