A cardiac enzyme test is a way for doctors to ascertain if a patient is having, or has had, a heart attack. Patients may also require the test if they are displaying symptoms of a blockage in one of the arteries of the heart. These symptoms may include things like dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain, sickness or nausea, sweating, or cool, clammy skin.

When severe stress is put on the heart, the muscle can become damaged. The heart then releases certain enzymes (a type of protein) into the blood. When a heart attack is in progress, or was in progress recently, this enzyme level is likely to be high. So carrying out these tests and looking at the enzyme level can be a good indicator regarding the seriousness of a patient’s symptoms.

What is the enzyme exactly?

When a doctor carries out a cardiac enzyme test, they’re looking at an enzyme called troponin. It enters the patient’s bloodstream during and immediately after a heart attack, and the levels can remain high for some time afterwards.

What does a cardiac enzyme test involve?

It’s very similar to any other kind of blood test. A needle is used to extract a sample of blood from the patient’s arm and results are usually very quick due to the urgency of heart conditions. Patients may require further tests to be carried out over time, to check that enzyme levels are returning to normal.

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What do the results mean?

The cardiac enzyme test will generate a number measured in nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml). This tells healthcare practitioners how much of the enzyme is presents in the patient’s blood.

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