New York Times article questions the need for regular treadmill based stress tests. Another sacred cow is being rethought.

New York Times article questions the need for regular treadmill based stress tests. Another sacred cow is being rethought.

The cardiac stress test is another one of those preventative medical tests now under fire. Over the years, many patients have discussed having this test and how it resulted in the need for some sort of immediate intervention which the patient believes saved their life.

The facts are that as people get older, when you run many medical tests, you are likely to find something to be concerned about. The question which is being asked is not whether the test has validity, but is it valid as a screen vs. should this test only be done when certain other signs of cardiac dysfunction are present.

There are some that will just believe what they had been taught to believe over the years, however, our system is stuffed with medical procedures, tests and protocols that are not routinely done in other countries who have better medical systems at a much lower cost as we do. Now that reforms are on the table, and the budgets are going to be cut and in some cases globalized, the game has changed forcing specialty groups to sort of trim the fat on their own specialties, rethinking those sacred cows that the data over the years shows may be wasteful or just over done.

Read it here

Panel Advises Against Routine Treadmill Stress Tests

Every year, hundreds of thousands of older Americans get on a treadmill in a doctor’s office and walk or jog as an electrocardiogram monitors their heart function. But a growing number of medical authorities would like to make routine screening using the procedure, known as the treadmill or exercise stress test, largely a thing of the past.On Monday an expert government panel, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, joined the call by recommending against routine testing with electrocardiograms, or EKGs, in people who have no known risk factors or symptoms of heart disease, like shortness of breath or chest pains.

The recommendations, published online in Annals of Internal Medicine, made the test the latest addition to an expanding list of once routine screening tools that have fallen out of favor. Earlier this year, the task force advised against regular screening with the prostate specific antigen, or P.S.A., blood test, long considered the gold standard for early detection of prostate cancer. The panel has also come out against measures like annual Pap smears for many women and regular mammograms for women in their 40s.

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