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Cardiac Biomarkers Test

Last updated April 16, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

The Cardiac Biomarkers Test is a blood test to assess the levels of various cardiac biomarkers in blood. It is used to diagnose a heart attack.

What are the other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • Biomarkers of Cardiovascular Disease
  • Cardiac Markers Test 

What is Cardiac Biomarkers Test? (Background Information)

  • Cardiac biomarkers are compounds, whose levels rise after a heart attack (acute myocardial infarction) or other severe muscle injury
  • These markers are normally present within muscle cells, where they carry out their functions. When muscles are damaged, the cellular contents may ‘leak out’

The major Cardiac biomarkers include:

  • Troponin: A regulatory protein necessary for muscle contraction. It is the most commonly used biomarker
  • Creatine kinase (CK): An enzyme necessary for energy production by the muscles
  • CK-MB: An isoenzyme of creatine kinase, meaning that it performs the same function as CK, though it differs in structure. It is more specific to cardiac muscles than creatine kinase
  • Myoglobin: A protein that transports oxygen throughout blood

The Cardiac Biomarkers Test is a blood test to assess the levels of various cardiac biomarkers in blood. It is used to diagnose a heart attack.

What are the Clinical Indications for performing Cardiac Biomarkers Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing a Cardiac Biomarkers Test:

  • Chest pain and tightness
  • Dizziness
  • Jaw pain
  • Paleness
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath

How is the Specimen Collected for Cardiac Biomarkers Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Cardiac Biomarkers Test:

Sample required: Blood

Process of obtaining blood sample in adults:

  • A band is wrapped around the arm, 3-4 inches above the collection site (superficial vein that lies within the elbow pit)
  • The site is cleaned with 70% alcohol in an outward spiral, away from the zone of needle insertion
  • The needle cap is removed and is held in line with the vein, pulling the skin tight
  • With a small and quick thrust, the vein is penetrated using the needle
  • The required amount of blood sample is collected, by pulling the plunger of the syringe out slowly
  • The wrap band is removed, gauze is placed on the collection site, and the needle is removed
  • The blood is immediately transferred into the blood container, which has the appropriate preservative/clot activator/anti-coagulant
  • The syringe and the needle are disposed into the appropriate “sharp container” for safe and hygienic disposal

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test. 

What is the Significance of the Cardiac Biomarkers Test Result?

  • Increased levels of any cardiac biomarkers may indicate a heart attack (acute myocardial infarction or MI), especially if appropriate accompanying symptoms are reported

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario. 

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

  • Many of the cardiac biomarkers are present in muscles throughout the body, not just the heart. Thus, the presence of muscle wasting diseases and severe muscle damage may increase the levels of some of the cardiac biomarkers 

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider, the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: May 4, 2015
Last updated: April 16, 2018