Heart scans pointless in healthy patients
All your doc has to do is utter the magic words "heart risk" and he's got your attention -- along with your compliance.
I get it: You're scared... maybe terrified -- so when he sends you out for a CT angiogram, you don't ask questions.
But if you haven't had any actual heart symptoms, don't just ask questions -- ask for a new doc, because there's ZERO benefit for you in that ultra-radioactive screening.
And now, a new study confirms it... again.
Researchers compared records on 1,000 symptom-free Koreans who had a regular physical exam to 1,000 similar patients who were given CT angiograms along with their physicals.
Better them than you -- because 21.5 percent of those given the CTs were told they had heart risk, and these patients were 10 times more likely to be sent out for stress tests, cardiac catheterizations or a nuclear medicine scan than those who didn't get CT'ed.
Even worse, they were three times more likely to be put on useless cholesterol meds and four times more likely to get a daily dose of stomach-wrecking aspirin.
And none of it made a difference: Over three months, there were no serious heart incidents in either group. And over 18 months, there was just one in each.
Now, you might think this isn't that big a deal -- even those hacks at the American Heart Association say symptom-free patients don't need routine CT angiograms.
But of the 2.3 million CT angiograms delivered every year in the United States, up to a third are being given to exactly these types of patients -- exposing hundreds of thousands of people to a radiation blast equal to 600 X-rays.
We're being zapped from here to kingdom come -- pumped so full of radiation from diagnostic tests that if this was a comic book, we'd have super powers by now.
Out here in the real world, however, all that zapping comes at a price: Cancer risk.
CT scans alone are responsible for 1 percent of all new cancer cases -- and with docs ordering more of these tests than ever before, you can bet they'll claim a bigger piece of the cancer pie soon enough.
About the author
William Campbell Douglass I.I., M.D. has been called "the conscience of modern medicine."
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