Harvard Women's Health Watch

Making smart screening decisions: Part 4: Commercial screening tests

Does screening for serious health conditions at your local gym or mall make sense?

While you were working out at the gym, walking through the mall, or visiting your church, you might have seen a sign for health screenings—an offer to quickly and easily test you for conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, and osteoporosis. Companies like Life Line Screening and HealthFair offer these tests, but are they worth the cost? Dr. Celeste Robb-Nicholson, Harvard Women's Health Watch editor in chief, explains why you need to be wary about commercial screening tests.

Is there any reason for women to have commercial screening tests?

I think the only merit to these tests is for the women who need them. The evidence is clear that screening for carotid artery disease and aortic abdominal aneurysm are only important in high-risk women. There's no evidence to support testing for peripheral artery disease before you have symptoms. There's also no evidence that screening every woman for chronic kidney disease is worth it.

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