J Am Coll Cardiol. 2021 Jun 29;77(25):3171-3179. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2021.04.049. Epub 2021 May 3.
BACKGROUND: Patients with chest pain are often evaluated for acute myocardial infarction through troponin testing, which may prompt downstream services (cascades) of uncertain value.
OBJECTIVES: This study sought to determine the association of high-sensitivity cardiac troponin (hs-cTn) assay implementation with cascade events.
METHODS: Using electronic health record and billing data, this study examined patient-visits to 5 emergency departments from April 1, 2017, to April 1, 2019. Difference-in-differences analysis compared patient-visits for chest pain (n = 7,564) to patient-visits for other symptoms (n = 100,415) (irrespective of troponin testing) before and after hs-cTn assay implementation. Outcomes included presence of any cascade event potentially associated with an initial hs-cTn test (primary), individual cascade events, length of stay, and spending on cardiac services.
RESULTS: Following hs-cTn implementation, patients with chest pain had a 2.8% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.72% to 4.9%) net increase in experiencing any cascade event. They were more likely to have multiple troponin tests (10.5%; 95% CI: 9.0% to 12.0%) and electrocardiograms (7.1 per 100 patient-visits; 95% CI: 1.8 to 12.4). However, they received net fewer computed tomography scans (-1.5 per 100 patient-visits; 95% CI: -1.8 to -1.1), stress tests (-5.9 per 100 patient-visits; 95% CI: -6.5 to -5.3), and percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) (-0.65 per 100 patient-visits; 95% CI: -1.01 to -0.30) and were less likely to receive cardiac medications, undergo cardiology evaluation (-3.5%; 95% CI: -4.5% to 2.6%), or be hospitalized (-5.8%; 95% CI: -7.7% to -3.8%). Patients with chest pain had lower net mean length of stay (-0.24 days; 95% CI: -0.32 to -0.16) but no net change in spending.
CONCLUSIONS: Hs-cTn assay implementation was associated with more net upfront tests yet fewer net stress tests, PCI, cardiology evaluations, and hospital admissions in patients with chest pain relative to patients with other symptoms.