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Take This to Heart, Part 2: Study Findings Re Coronary Testing

The adage “too much is not a good thing” routinely plays out in many areas of life.

The medical industry is certainly no exception.

Take diagnostic screening tests, for example, which are routinely recommended in a huge number of instances each day by doctors in medical facilities across the country.

We noted in our immediately preceding blog post (please see our March 17 entry) that diagnostic screening is not a universally applauded practice in the medical industry.

The reasons why are several. First, no one reasonably questions that the costs involved with screenings can often be prohibitively expensive. And, second, screening results often turn up nothing relevant or important for doctors to consider. Put another way, which commentators often do: Such tests sometimes seem to be flatly unnecessary.

And there’s a third concern, one expressed with some alacrity in a recently issued report authored by the American College of Physicians. ACP researchers who took a close look at heart disease screening tests for persons at low risk of developing heart problems state that such tests can actually bring about adverse patient outcomes.

The reason why is that “false positives” can result from testing, which can in turn direct further treatment in appropriate and even dangerous ways. As noted by ACP president Dr. David Fleming, wrongly deduced outcomes from diagnostic screenings “may result in unnecessary tests and treatments with their own additional risks.”

The ACP counsels against high-tech screening assists in most instances. As noted in an article discussing the ACP’s research and its conclusions regarding the ineffectiveness of cardiac screening for low-risk patients, researchers favor “treating modifiable risk factors” that we alluded to in our previous post, such as hypertension and diabetes.

The research unquestionably provides relevant information for any person who is being counseled to submit to a battery of diagnostic tests. In any such instance, it would seem to be quite reasonable for a patient to ask a few pointed questions or even solicit a second opinion.