Researchers Warn Against Overcautious Use of Cardiac Stress Tests
Gainesville, FL - Physicians sometimes order cardiac stress tests for symptomless patients out of an abundance of caution, but a University of Florida study found this practice rarely reveals hidden heart issues.
The researchers found few patients, if any, who do not display symptoms of cardiac distress benefited from undergoing stress tests that look for cardiac problems. Their observational study, published online in the Journal of Nuclear Cardiology, relates to a campaign called “Choosing Wisely,” organized by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation and Consumer Reports. The campaign aims to reduce the overuse of tests and procedures.
“Some physicians are more aggressive about and more likely to give these tests in people they are concerned for, or in patients who have risk factors for heart disease,” said David Winchester, M.D., a professor of medicine in the UF College of Medicine and the study’s lead author. “Our study was to show to the medical community that these tests not only have been thought to be unnecessary based on what the professional society is saying, but also in that we don’t see any value in them for the patient.”
This kind of stress test, called myocardial perfusion imaging, is ordered for patients who do not have the appropriate cardiac symptoms about 10 to 15 percent of the time at the Veterans Affairs hospital they studied, Winchester said. Nationally, the rate is 7 to 44 percent, Winchester said. Continue>
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