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The Role of Postmortem Cardiac Markers in the Diagnosis of Acute Myocardial Infarction

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Sudden cardiac deaths because of acute myocardial infarction (MI) constitute a significant percentage of the caseload for death investigators, coroners, and forensic pathologists. Clinicians use cardiac markers, highly sensitive and specific for myocardial damage, to screen living patients for acute MI; however, to this point, the utility of these markers in the autopsy setting has not been fully established. The current study included 10 decedents, five who died of acute MI, and five subjects who died of noncardiac disease. Samples of pericardial fluid and blood from multiple sites were tested for creatine kinase, creatinine kinase MB, and troponin-I. Three main conclusions were drawn: the levels of cardiac markers from all patients are significantly higher than the reference range for living patients, there are significant differences in cardiac marker levels between samples from different anatomic locations, and only three cardiac marker/anatomic site combinations were significantly different between the control and study groups.

Keywords: autopsy; cardiac markers; death; forensic pathology; forensic sciences; heart; myocardial infarction

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Medical University of South Carolina, Suite 309, 171 Ashley Avenue, PO Box 250908, Charleston, SC 29425. 2: Professional Pathology Services, Columbia, SC. 3: Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office, Atlanta, GA.

Publication date: 2010-07-01

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