No evidence these cost consuming tests have any value in healthy persons
February is Heart Month, raising awareness for heart disease, the number cause of death in women with one in three women dying each year.
Heart disease is a serious matter but sometimes it leave physicians recommending screening tests to ensure cardiovascular health but when someone does not have any symptoms like chest pains they may want to hold that testing thought.
A survey in Consumer Reports found among those who had taken the survey 44% had at least one heart screen such as a stress test. Tests such as the stress have limited evidence in low or normal at risk persons along with the fact there is no sound evidence that those common typical tests are in anyway helpful if the person is healthy.
Dr. Malissa Woods, spokesperson for the American Heart Association points out the false-positive aspect. Dr. Woods notes if you do a test on like the stress test on a healthy person non-symptomatic you are more than likely to get a false-positive result than a true positive, a false alarm that leads to more tests.According to Dr. Woods "We really want to go based on symptoms.”
Dr. Patrick O'Malley, internist at Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Maryland, seems to agree stating there are no heart tests that any asymptomatic man or women should get. "There are many that are done which they shouldn't get."
Just what are the test?
Reuters Health had complied a short list of these tests the top four tests that are not necessary:
EKG the electrocardiogram which is basically a readout of your hearts electrical activities that gets recorded by electrodes placed on the test. This test is used to study irregular heart rhythms, heart attack and other heart problems. There have been no trials that looked to see if this test can prevent heart disease in people who have no symptoms. It is a safe test that costs around fifty dollars but the issue is if the test looks abnormal it could lead to more testing which do have risks.
Carotid ultrasound allows physicians to see the arteries in the neck if they are clogged with cholesterol build-up or plaque which is a risk for stroke. There is no evidence that this test saves lives. It costs between two and three hundred dollars and does have a risk. Routine scans give more false-positives than true positives. It can also lead to invasive imaging, carotid surgery or stenting. Among patients that receive carotid surgery, two to percent die during the procedure and even more patients endure a stroke.
Echo-cardiogram, a moving ultrasound picture of the heart. Physicians find out how well the heart is pumping out blood and if there are structural problems. The test is safe and costs between two and three hundred dollars. The problem once again is false alarms which could result in more invasive tests and treatments at a later time.
Stress test is given to spot any signs of heart pumping problems. For the test the heart is stressed with the person put on a treadmill or stationary bike while having an EKG. They are helpful to diagnose heart problems but have not demonstrated to be a useful tool. The test can cost a few hundred dollars up to a thousand. It does have a common risk from exercise mainly for those with heart problems and they can also result in false alarms.
Experts still agree the best way for heart health is lifestyle. Not only women but men also should consume a healthy diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables, have physical activity and do not smoke.
The American Heart Association adds in to keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels under control.
A healthy diet should include lots of fruits and vegetables, grains especially whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, legumes, poultry and lean meat. The Mediterranean diet lowers your risk for heart disease and stroke.