Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Health Services Research and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

Hospital laboratory reporting may be a barrier to detection of ‘microsize’ myocardial infarction in the US: an observational study

Monika M Safford1*, Gaurav Parmar1, Codrin S Barasch1, Jewell H Halanych1, Stephen P Glasser1, David C Goff2, Ronald J Prineas3 and Todd M Brown4

Author affiliations

1 Division of Preventive Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, Medical Towers 621, 1717 11th Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35294-4410, USA

2 Colorado School of Public Health, Building 500, 3rd Floor, Suite 300, Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO 80045, USA

3 Department of Epidemiology & Prevention, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Boulevard, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1063, USA

4 Division of Cardiovascular Disease, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, 701 19th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294-0007, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:162  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-162

Published: 1 May 2013

Abstract

Background

International guidelines recommend that the decision threshold for troponin should be the 99th percentile of a normal population, or, if the laboratory assay is not sufficiently precise at this low level, the level at which the assay achieves a 10% or better coefficient of variation (CV). Our objectives were to examine US hospital laboratory troponin reports to determine whether either the 99th percentile or the 10% CV level were clearly indicated, and whether nonconcordance with these guidelines was a potential barrier to detecting clinically important microscopic or ‘microsize’ myocardial infarctions (MIs). To confirm past reports of the clinical importance of microsize MIs, we also contrasted in-hospital, 28-day and 1-year mortality among those with microsize and nonmicrosize MI.

Methods

In the REasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke national prospective cohort study (n=30,239), 1029 participants were hospitalized for acute coronary syndrome (ACS) between 2003–2009. For each case, we recorded all thresholds of abnormal troponin on the laboratory report and whether the 99th percentile or 10% CV value were clearly identified. All cases were expert adjudicated for presence of MI. Peak troponin values were used to classify MIs as microsize MI (< five times the lowest listed upper limit of normal) and nonmicrosize MI.

Results

Participants were hospitalized at 649 acute care US hospitals, only 2% of whose lab reports clearly identified the 99th percentile or the 10% CV level; 52% of reports indicated an indeterminate range, a practice that is no longer recommended. There were 183 microsize MIs and 353 nonmicrosize MIs. In-hospital mortality tended to be lower in the microsize than in the nonmicrosize MI group (1.1 vs. 3.6%, p = 0.09), but 28-day and 1-year mortality were similar (2.5% vs. 2.7% [p = 0.93] and 5.2% vs. 4.3% [p = 0.64], respectively).

Conclusions

Current practices in many US hospitals created barriers to the clinical recognition of microsize MI, which was common and clinically important in our study. Improved hospital troponin reporting is warranted.

Keywords:
Acute coronary syndrome; Troponin; Quality control