Medical Tests & Procedures

Medical Tests & Procedures Articles

Treatments for breast cancer may harm the heart

Women treated for breast cancer may face a heightened risk of heart disease from the effects of chemotherapy and radiation. But physicians known as cardio-oncologists can offer strategies to both prevent and treat heart damage from cancer therapy. These include echocardiograms before and after treatment to monitor any possible abnormalities, as well as changes to medications such as statins and blood pressure drugs. Physical activity may also decrease the risk of heart injuries related to breast cancer treatment. (Locked) More »

Understanding COPD from a cardiovascular perspective

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) includes damage to the air sacs of the lungs (emphysema) and inflammation in the lung’s airways (bronchitis). Some of the symptoms of COPD, such as trouble breathing, fatigue, and chest tightness during physical activity, may be mistakenly attributed to heart disease. Smoking increases the risk of both heart disease and COPD. Current or former smokers should consider getting tested for COPD with a simple lung function test known as spirometry. More »

When a stroke strikes

Updated stroke treatment guidelines suggest that more people who experience strokes caused by a clot in a large blood vessel may qualify for a clot-retrieving procedure. The change may prevent or limit brain damage from these devastating events. However, people must meet strict criteria to receive the clot-retrieval therapy, and there is a shortage of specialists trained to perform the procedure. (Locked) More »

Can this DNA test help predict your longevity?

Telomeres are strands of expendable DNA that form protective caps on the ends of chromosomes. Telomeres protect chromosomes from shortening when a cell divides. Telomeres are damaged each time a cell divides and tend to shorten as a person ages. Commercial telomere tests promise to reveal a person’s telomere length and uncover a person’s true biological age. But it’s unclear if the tests are accurate and what a person’s telomere length actually means for health or longevity. (Locked) More »

Zap away atrial fibrillation?

Recent guidelines for treating atrial fibrillation have shifted a procedure called catheter ablation more to the forefront of therapy choices. It uses a thin, flexible tube to zap faulty electrical pathways in the heart. Catheter ablation is an option for people with intermittent or persistent atrial fibrillation who have troubling symptoms that aren’t relieved by medication. Symptoms can include a fluttering or thumping sensation in the chest, breathlessness, dizziness, anxiety, weakness, fainting, confusion, and fatigue. (Locked) More »

A closer look at heart disease risk

Sometimes the presence of atherosclerosis, the disease underlying most heart attacks, is not clear or easily recognized, especially before a heart attack or other crisis happens. In those instances, doctors may rely on a coronary artery calcium (CAC) scan, which measures the amount of calcium in the heart’s arteries, high levels of which are associated with cardiovascular disease. The CAC results can help predict a person’s risk for heart attack or stroke, even if that person doesn’t have obvious risk factors or symptoms. (Locked) More »

A new approach to cancer diagnosis

Tissue biopsies are the standard test for identifying cancer, but another approach, called a liquid biopsy, may provide a diagnosis when a traditional biopsy doesn’t. It uses a person’s blood to detect cancer and can help determine the right therapy. (Locked) More »

Tracing the heart’s electrical signature

An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a quick, painless, noninvasive test that can help diagnose dozens of heart conditions. For people who are 50 or older, getting an ECG as part of an annual physical exam makes sense, according to some cardiologists. The test records the heart’s electrical activity through 10 small electrodes placed on the chest, arms, and legs. The resulting squiggly lines represent the electrical impulses in the heart that activate the heart muscle and its blood-pumping action. An ECG may reveal damage from a previously undetected heart attack, abnormalities in heart rhythm, or an enlarged heart. (Locked) More »