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Heart Health

Do you really need that heart test or procedure?

July 1, 2022

Low-value cardiovascular care is common, costly, and in some cases, harmful.

photo of a senior man undergoing a heart stress test with the technician in the background

If a doctor says you need a stress test or a stent, it’s only natural to assume the results will improve your health in some way. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. In some situations, heart-related tests and procedures (see "Common heart tests and procedures") offer no clear benefit. This so-called low-value care isn’t just a waste of time and money; it may also promote anxiety and lead to potentially harmful complications.

In fact, up to half of all stress tests done in the United States may be considered "rarely appropriate," according to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association (AHA) published in the March 2022 issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. What drives this problem — and what can you do about it?

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