Medical Tests & Procedures

Medical Tests & Procedures Articles

An underused option for severe depression

Nonsurgical brain stimulation techniques use electrical current or magnets to stimulate the brain areas affected by depression. It’s thought that the changes in brain activity the treatments prompt help relieve symptoms of depression. A new study found that these treatments can be an effective alternative or additional therapy for people with medication-resistant severe depression. More »

Closing in on tinnitus treatments

Tinnitus is a ringing in the ears that occurs with age. It may be triggered by impaired hearing, leading to diminished sound impulses moving along the auditory nerve between the ear and the brain. In some people, the brain tries to compensate for this loss of input by turning up internal volume and tuning into background sounds in the brain. Tinnitus can be difficult to treat. There’s no way to measure it directly, which is needed for diagnosis and effective treatment. Researchers are working to identify a physical signature for tinnitus by using measurements of the pupils and brain activity. More »

Dealing with high-density breasts

High breast density is a risk factor for breast cancer that is typically detected on a mammogram. The FDA is proposing that mammography facilities tell women if they have high density, but there are no definitive rules in place that tell doctors how to best manage these women to reduce risk. Some strategies you can use if you have high breast density are to have a conversation with your doctor about breast cancer risk and reducing alcohol use. (Locked) More »

New insights about inflammation

Inflammation plays a key role in the development of atherosclerosis, the root cause of most heart disease. A blood test for inflammation, known as the hsCRP test, can predict heart disease just as well as LDL cholesterol testing. Two recent studies of different anti-inflammatory medications in people with heart disease are helping researchers zero in on new ways to prevent heart attacks and related problems. But the quest for effective treatments to lower inflammation is still a work in progress. More »

Managing atrial fibrillation: An update

New guidelines for managing atrial fibrillation (afib) now advise most people to take novel oral anticoagulant drugs rather than warfarin to prevent a stroke. Aspirin is no longer recommended for stroke prevention for afib. Another change highlights the benefits of weight loss, which can reduce afib episodes and keep the condition from worsening. The guidelines also more strongly recommend a procedure called ablation (which destroys faulty electric pathways in the heart) for people with afib symptoms who also have systolic heart failure. (Locked) More »

Newer breast screening technology may spot more cancers

A new study shows that digital breast tomography, sometimes referred to as 3D mammography, is better at accurately finding cancers, including smaller cancers, and reduces the risk of false positive results compared with digital mammography. The advantages of the technology were particularly pronounced in women in their 40s. For this reason, younger women may want to consider using this screening method instead of traditional digital mammograms. (Locked) More »

Shortness of breath: A common symptom with many possible causes

Shortness of breath can result from a range of problems, but heart or lung conditions are usually to blame. Sudden breathing problems may be a heart attack or pulmonary embolism, which require immediate attention. Breathing problems that come on more gradually and during physical activity may be caused by aortic stenosis or heart failure. Worsening breathing problems with coughing may be chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which often coexists with heart disease. (Locked) More »

Four keys to prevent cardiovascular disease

After decades of steady decline, the number of deaths from cardiovascular disease (CVD) has increased over the last few years. However, an estimated 80% of all CVD —heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, and stroke—can be prevented. They key is to control high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and follow healthy habits, such eating a plant-based diet, adopting regular physical activity, and getting adequate sleep. (Locked) More »

When do you need a heart stent?

An estimated two million people get stents every year to treat coronary artery blockage, yet the American Medical Association says they were one of the most highly overused medical interventions. While stents can be lifesaving for people who are having a heart attack, they may not be the best way to improve symptoms of stable angina or reduce the risk of a heart attack. Instead, they should make lifestyle changes and take medications that relieve symptoms and reduce heart attack risk. (Locked) More »