Too much of a good thing

Sometimes it is better to leave things alone if they are working well.

Trying to refine things does not always make it lot better.

A case in point is the Troponin blood test used for diagnosis of heart attacks.

The conventional troponin blood test used to work reasonably well. I suppose it is human nature to try and make existing things better.

The high sensitivity troponin tests were developed to diagnose more heart attacks.

Yes, it is a good thing to diagnose more heart attacks quicker.

But the problem is these new blood tests can also generate false positives. It’s like a super sensitive fire alarm which is triggered by impurities rather than by fire. It’s not only annoying, but affects people’s response to alarms.

The high sensitivity troponin test can sound the false alarm for heart attack in lot of hospital patients admitted for something else.

Just because a test is highly sensitive doesn’t make it super useful!

But it looks like the genie is out of the bottle and the high sensitivity troponin tests are here to stay ….

Share your thoughts at the BMJ website through the rapid response option.


1. High sensitivity troponin assays: too much of a good thing.

Toll-free link:

2. True 99th centile of high sensitivity cardiac troponin for hospital patients: prospective, observational cohort study.

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 13 March 2019)

Disclaimer: Please note- This blog is NOT medical advice. This blog is purely for information only. See your own doctor to discuss concerns and options relevant for you.