Many people ask their doctors to run "just in case" diagnostic imaging tests to check for hidden dangers, like a narrowed coronary artery. But unless you have actual symptoms or clear risk factors for heart disease, testing may not offer any benefit—and comes with costs and potential risks, says the August 2012 issue of the Harvard Men's Health Watch.
"You can't make someone who is feeling fine feel better," says cardiologist Dr. Thomas Lee, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, "and there is no evidence—for the vast majority of people who are feeling fine—that we're going to make them live longer by doing tests."
The American College of Cardiology recently issued a list of commonly overused heart tests and procedures along with suggestions for when they are appropriate—and aren't appropriate. The guidelines cover nuclear imaging, MRI, CT, and ultrasound, as well as appropriate use of cardiac stents, the expandable mesh tubes used to prop open clogged arteries.
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