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Who Really Needs All Those Heart Tests?
Overtreatment may lead to excess worry and worse outcomes, report says

By Mary Elizabeth Dallas

FRIDAY, April 7, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Sometimes the treatment for heart problems may be more aggressive than it needs to be, according to Consumer Reports.

Heart disease requires emergency medical attention when someone is having active symptoms, such as chest pain and shortness of breath. But excessive heart screening tests associated with false alarms can cause unnecessary anxiety and lead to a series of costly and risky procedures, the new report stated.

Overtreatment for heart disease can lead to complications and worse outcomes, cautioned Dr. Marvin Lipman, the chief medical adviser at Consumer Reports.

Low-risk patients with no worrisome symptoms who've been told they should undergo certain heart-screening tests should speak up and ask their doctor why these tests are necessary, he advised.

"If you don't get a satisfactory answer, politely decline it or ask for a second opinion," Lipman said in a news release from the organization.

The following is a list of heart tests and who would most likely benefit from them, according to Consumer Reports:

  • Electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG): This test may be needed for people who have warning signs of heart disease, including chest pain. Anyone at risk for heart disease who's starting an exercise program may also benefit from this test.
  • Exercise stress test: This test may be done along with an EKG. It also might be done if you've had unusual EKG results.
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm test: This test may be useful for men aged 65 to 75, especially current or former smokers. It might also be helpful for those with detectable lumps in their belly. The benefits of this test aren't as clear for women. But it may be considered useful for women 65 or older with a history of smoking.
  • Peripheral artery disease test: Anyone who suffers from cramping in the hips, thighs or calves while walking or exercising may need this test.
  • Carotid artery imaging: This test may be helpful for people who've had a stroke or a mini-stroke.
  • CT angiography: This test may be useful for people who receive inconclusive EKG or stress test results, and those with chest pain.

The report was published online April 6, and is in the May print issue of Consumer Reports.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about heart-health screenings.

SOURCE: Consumer Reports , news release, April 6, 2017

Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved. URL:http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=721296

Resources from HONselect: HONselect is the HON's medical search engine. It retrieves scientific articles, images, conferences and web sites on the selected subject.
Heart
Electrocardiography
Heart Diseases
Lead
Pain
Chest Pain
Thorax
Anxiety
Mass Screening
Arteries
Exercise Test
The list of medical terms above are retrieved automatically from the article.

Disclaimer: The text presented on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It is for your information only and may not represent your true individual medical situation. Do not hesitate to consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified healthcare professional.
Be advised that HealthDay articles are derived from various sources and may not reflect your own country regulations. The Health On the Net Foundation does not endorse opinions, products, or services that may appear in HealthDay articles.


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