By Natasha Persaud
When it comes to medical tests, “more isn’t always better,” according to the “Choosing Wisely” campaign by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation. It hopes to educate patients and doctors that overuse of medical tests may be costing us money—and health, when unnecessary medical tests and procedures expose patients to radiation or surgical complications.
According to the American College of Cardiology, commonly ordered heart tests usually are a waste of health care dollars in the following situations. You might hear your doctor refer to imaging tests by specific names such as stress test with imaging, echocardiogram, coronary calcium scan, CT scan (or CTA) or cardiac MRI. PCI surgery is also called angioplasty.
1. Stress cardiac imaging or advanced non-invasive imaging in the initial evaluation of patients without heart symptoms—unless they are at high risk due to diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, or precursors to coronary heart disease.
2. Annual stress cardiac imaging or advanced non-invasive imaging as part of routine follow-up in patients without symptoms.
3. Stress cardiac imaging or advanced non-invasive imaging prior to surgery that doesn’t involve the heart (such as cataract removal)
4. Echocardiography as part of routine follow-up for mild, asymptomatic valve disease, unless there is a change in signs or symptoms
5. Placing stents across lesions in the blood vessels that have no involvement in a STEMI heart attack (during percutaneous coronary intervention or PCI surgery)
People should have a conversation with their doctors before having these imaging tests and procedures.
“Choosing Wisely: Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question.” American College of Cardiology. Available at http://choosingwisely.org/?page_id=13 Accessed on April 16, 2012.