Cardiac enzyme studies measure the levels of enzymes and proteins that are linked with injury of the heart muscle. These include the enzyme creatine kinase (CK), and the proteins troponin I (TnI) and troponin T (TnT). Low levels of these enzymes and proteins are normally found in your blood, but if your heart muscle is injured, such as from a heart attack, the enzymes and proteins leak out of damaged heart muscle cells, and their levels in the bloodstream rise.
Because some of these enzymes and proteins are also found in other body tissues, their levels in the blood may rise when those other tissues are damaged. Cardiac enzyme studies must always be compared with your symptoms, your physical examination findings, and electrocardiogram (EKG, ECG) results.
Heart disease has haunted generations of Robin Drummond's family. "I have a
family history of
heart disease on both sides," says the 55-year-old African-American and
resident of Hammond, La. "I've had uncles, aunts, and grandparents who've died
heart attacks and heart disease, and two of my mother's brothers died four
months apart. One had a heart attack in church, and four months later, one had
a heart attack in the post office."
When Drummond's father succumbed to heart disease...
Check for injury to the heart from other causes, such as an infection.
How To Prepare
No special preparation is required before having this test.
Many medicines may affect the results of this test. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the nonprescription and prescription medicines you take.
Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
How It Is Done
The health professional drawing your blood will:
Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put a needle into the vein.
Clean the needle site with alcohol.
Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed.
Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is collected.
Put a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
Put pressure on the site and then put on a bandage.
Cardiac enzyme studies are often repeated over several hours for comparison.