Medical Tests & Procedures

Medical Tests & Procedures Articles

Choosing and using a home blood pressure monitor

Using a home blood pressure monitor can help people manage their condition more effectively, especially if they are taking several different drugs while trying to reach their blood pressure target. When choosing a monitor, people should select one with a well-fitting, self-inflating cuff that goes around the upper arm and a digital readout that’s easy to read. Some monitors feature a cord that plugs into a smartphone; others can transfer their data wirelessly to a smartphone or computer. The blood pressure readings can then be transmitted to physicians. (Locked) More »

When you look for cancer, you might find heart disease

Screening tests for lung and breast cancer—chest computed tomography (CT) scans and mammograms—may offer clues about a person’s risk of heart disease. Chest CT scans, which are also done to detect blood clots in the lungs and for other lung diseases, can show calcium deposits in the heart’s arteries. Mammograms can show calcium in the breast arteries, which is closely linked to calcium in the coronary arteries. Calcium accumulates in artery walls, along with fat, cholesterol, and other substances to form plaque. Plaque narrows and hardens arteries, eventually leading to blockages that can trigger heart attacks. (Locked) More »

When your colonoscopy reveals that you have diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, or both

Many people have diverticula and hemorrhoids without symptoms. Diverticula are pouchlike structures that sometimes form in the muscular wall of the colon and bulge outward. In some people, diverticula bleed or get infected (diverticulitis). Hemorrhoids are pillow-like clusters of veins in the lining of the lower part of the rectum and anus, which help play a role in preventing stool leakage. When they become enlarged, however, they are anything but helpful and can even contribute to some leakage in addition to pain, itching, and bleeding. (Locked) More »

Should you stop anti-clotting drugs before a procedure?

Millions of people with heart disease take anti-clotting drugs to lower the risk of a blood clot in the leg, lung, or brain. But these lifesaving drugs require careful management if a person using them needs an invasive procedure. Any surgery or other procedure in which a doctor uses an instrument to enter the body poses a risk of bleeding. This risk is greater among people taking anti-clotting drugs. But stopping the drug is also risky, as this increases the risk of a clot. People taking anti-clotting drugs should be sure to have their prescribing doctor speak to the doctor performing the procedure. They may need to temporarily stop taking the clot-preventing drug. (Locked) More »

Taking too much vitamin D can cloud its benefits and create health risks

In recent years, there has been more research into the role vitamin D plays in the development of chronic diseases. While evidence showing vitamin D as a cause for disease or a means to prevent it is far from conclusive, vitamin D supplements and testing have seen a surge in popularity. It is important to stick to recommended doses, unless a doctor advises otherwise. Taking too much can be harmful. More »

What is a “full metal jacket”?

A “full metal jacket” is a term that doctors use to describe a long series of stents in one of the heart’s three major arteries. Stents are tiny metal cylinders that help prop open arteries to restore blood flow to the heart. More »

Where to turn for low back pain relief

Low back pain that doesn’t subside may need a doctor’s care. A good place to start is with a primary care doctor or a chiropractor, who can assess pain, and in most cases, can treat it. Low back pain sometimes needs the care of a specialist. The type of specialist to consult depends on the cause of the back pain. For example, referral to a rheumatologist is most appropriate when there is inflammation of the joints in the back, or if the back pain might be related to an inflammatory disease. More »

Should you try a home genetic test kit?

Direct-to-consumer test kits can help detect a person’s genetic predisposition or odds of developing certain medical diseases or conditions. They are simple to use and can be done in the privacy of home. The tests analyze markers in DNA to look for mutations or markers associated with common diseases, such as late-onset Alzheimer’s disease or particular cancers. Results can be used as a way to explore things people should already be doing to improve health and reduce the risk of disease, such as losing weight, exercising, and lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. (Locked) More »