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2 Tests May Improve Heart Patients' Care, Studies Suggest
Date:8/22/2012

ssment to determine whether the added information from this testing is truly useful."

The authors added that radiation exposure and costs are of concern when considering this test.

Dr. Tara Narula, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, agreed that radiation and cost need to be considered.

"There are important limitations to mass promotion of the use of [coronary artery calcium] scoring," Narula said. "First, coronary calcium screening implies a small dose of radiation exposure to patients with possible longer-term cancer risk. Second, there are financial costs to consider from the cost of [the test] itself to the cost of chasing down incidental findings with further testing."

Yeboah said further studies need to be done to define the risks of radiation and the benefits of the information gleaned from coronary artery calcium scans. As for the cost, he said, in his center the test is less than $200, although it varies around the country.

Still, "the amount of money society loses will be more than if we could have prevented a heart attack with the test," he said. "Preventing a heart attack is priceless."

More information

Learn more about what you can do to prevent heart disease from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Joseph Yeboah, M.D., M.S., assistant professor, cardiology, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Tara Narula, M.D., cardiologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Aug. 22, 2012, Journal of the American Medical Association


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