Ask the doctor: Are community heart check-ups worth doing?

Ask the doctor

Are community heart check-ups worth doing?

Q. I often get mail from companies like Life Line Screening about having tests to look for "hidden" heart risks. The events are usually held at a local church and cost about $130. Are these tests valid? Are they worth the money?

A. Valid and worth the money are two different issues. The tests these companies offer are quite valid, and doctors often do them precisely for the reason you listed. The big difference is that doctors usually do them when they suspect a patient has a particular condition or is at high risk for it. Doing these tests in seemingly healthy people often causes more problems than it prevents.

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