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Many in US Get Unneeded Heart Tests

Friday, 04 Feb 2011 09:20 AM


In the last five years, 44 percent of "healthy" adults with no risk factors for heart disease were given heart-specific tests beyond the routine blood pressure monitoring and blood work, according to a new study by Consumer Reports.
They were given tests like an electrocardiogram (EKG), a blood test for C-reactive protein (CRP), and an exercise stress test, but were not getting information about the risks and benefits of heart screenings. Consumer Reports surveyed 8,056 patients aged 40 to 60.
"Something needs to be done to rein in the spending and testing spree by patients and their doctors. It's worrisome that healthy people are getting tests they may not need because a prevention test that is not reliable can lead to a cascade of unnecessary, costly, and in some cases risky follow-up tests and treatment," Dr. John Santa, director, Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, said in a statement.
The survey also indicated that respondents may be confused about their risk for heart attack or stroke. For example, 29 percent of "healthy" people in the survey described themselves as "at risk" for heart disease even though they did not have high cholesterol or blood pressure, were never diagnosed with any heart condition, never experienced symptoms of heart disease, never smoked, and rated their health as "good" or "excellent." Only 9 percent had actually heard that from a doctor.
To determine the value of the tests and risk factors associated with heart disease, Consumer Reports has creating a ratings system to nine common tests, "What to get, what to skip." View the ratings system here.
"By applying a Consumer Reports' ratings approach to nine common screening tests, we're making it easier for consumers to easily decipher the benefits and risks associated with these tests," said Santa. "If we let the evidence speak for itself, then perhaps we can get a better foothold with the American consumer."

© HealthDay

   
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