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New routine heart test doubles chances of surgery
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A new routine diagnostic test for coronary artery disease - which most doctors will be using in the next five years - doubles your chances of surgery, which may be unnecessary and even fatal

A new routine diagnostic test for coronary artery disease - which most doctors will be using in the next five years - doubles your chances of surgery, which may be unnecessary and even fatal.
The CT angiogram is fast replacing the standard stress test in doctors' surgeries, and uses intravenous dye and CT scanning technology to provide an 'inside view' of the coronary arteries. The stress test uses a gym bike or running machine, followed by a simple check of the heart's functioning.
But the new procedure is doubling the rate of invasive cardiac procedures, including surgery, researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered. Lead researcher Mark Hlatky wonders just how many of these invasive procedures are necessary. "If you pull a 75-year-old off the street and give him this test, it's unlikely the coronary arteries will be completely normal," he said.
And he doubts whether the patient is helped by having a procedure such as coronary revascularization. Worse, early signs suggest that it could be fatal after six months.
(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2011; 306: 2128-36).


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