Healthy adults getting unneeded heart screenings
If a doctor suggests you get some kind of screening procedure to make sure your cardiovascular system's in good shape, you just do it, right?
That's how I have treated my own heart health; I figure the more I know about it, the better.
But a report issued Thursday morning by Consumer Reports shows that a whopping 44 percent of healthy adults (those who have no history of heart disease and who have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels) have had heart-health screening procedures that they didn't really need. The report also notes that few of us question the need for screening, whether by blood-pressure check, EKG or C-reactive protein test. And still fewer of us seem to care about the potential risks of such screenings, which include unneeded followup screenings, tests and treatments.
Unnecessary screenings of course add to the burden of health-care costs, something we Americans well know need to be contained. But it's hard to think globally when it's your own ticker's health in question. To help put things in perspective, Consumer Reports has provided ratings for nine common cardiovascular screening tests, showing which ones are worthwhile and which, well, aren't so much.
In Consumer Reports' assessment, cholesterol and blood-pressure screenings provide substantial benefit at little cost and with little risk to the patient. At the other end of the spectrum, screening for abdominal aortic aneurysm is deemed to provide no benefit, though its cost is substantial.
What's your experience with cardiovascular screening tests? Have you been offered screening you felt wasn't necessary? Have you asked your doctor if you could do without? Or do you feel your life was saved by a screening procedure?
Jennifer LaRue Huget
| February 3, 2011; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Cardiovascular Health, Chronic Conditions, medical costs, screening
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