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Also known as: TnI; TnT; cTnI; cTnT
Formal name: Cardiac-specific Troponin I and Troponin T

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The Test Sample

What is being tested?

Troponins are a family of proteins found in skeletal and heart (cardiac) muscle fibers that produce muscular contraction. Troponin tests measure the level of cardiac-specific troponin in the blood to help detect heart injury.

There are three types of troponin proteins: troponin C, troponin T, and troponin I. Troponin C initiates contraction by binding calcium and moves troponin I so that the two proteins that pull the muscle fiber shorter can interact. Troponin T anchors the troponin complex to the muscle fiber structure. There is little or no difference in troponin C between skeletal and cardiac muscle, but the forms of troponin I and troponin T are different. Measuring the amount of cardiac-specific troponin T or troponin I in the blood can help identify individuals who have experienced damage to their heart.

Normally, troponin is present in very small to undetectable quantities in the blood. When there is damage to heart muscle cells, troponin is released into the blood. The more damage there is, the greater the concentration in the blood. Primarily, troponin tests are used to help determine if an individual has suffered a heart attack. They may also be helpful in evaluating someone for other forms of heart injury.

When a person has a heart attack, levels of cardiac-specific troponins I and T can become elevated in the blood within 3 or 4 hours after injury and may remain elevated for 10 to 14 days.

How is the sample collected for testing?

A blood sample is taken by needle from a vein in the arm.

NOTE: If undergoing medical tests makes you or someone you care for anxious, embarrassed, or even difficult to manage, you might consider reading one or more of the following articles: Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety, Tips on Blood Testing, Tips to Help Children through Their Medical Tests, and Tips to Help the Elderly through Their Medical Tests.

Another article, Follow That Sample, provides a glimpse at the collection and processing of a blood sample and throat culture.

Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?

No test preparation is needed.