Medical Tests & Procedures Archive

Articles

Simpler way to test for true penicillin allergy

A 2023 study found that an oral penicillin challenge in a doctor's office provides a simple method of determining true penicillin allergy.

FDA approves new surgical treatment for enlarged prostates

A transurethral resection of the prostate is considered the gold-standard treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia. But newer, less invasive procedures offer faster recovery times and fewer risks of complications. Earlier this year another new procedure won the FDA's approval.

Genetic profiling for heart disease: An update

A polygenic risk score for heart disease is based on an analysis of more than three million common DNA variants and is expressed as a percentile. People can have zero, one, or two copies of any variant, each of which may either raise or lower the risk of coronary artery disease. Many of these variants occur in genes known to affect heart disease, such as those related to cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood clotting. Others aren't well understood and may provide targets for future research, potentially fueling new drug discovery efforts. For now, the potential benefits of this test are greatest for people under 50.

An inside look at body fat

As men age, their metabolism naturally slows, and they burn calories more slowly. They can be less active and consume extra calories. The result is a buildup of visceral fat inside the abdominal cavity and around vital organs. This can raise heart disease risk factors, such as blood pressure, blood sugar, and total cholesterol levels. The best way to fight visceral fat is with aerobic exercise, strength training, and a healthy diet that includes plenty of protein.

An elevated high-sensitivity troponin level

Troponins, which are proteins found in heart muscle cells, are released in the bloodstream during a heart attack. Other conditions, such heart muscle inflammation and chronic kidney disease, can also cause troponin levels to rise.

Seeing clogged arteries may inspire healthier habits

If people see evidence of plaque buildup inside their arteries, it may motivate them to take better care of their heart health, according to a 2023 study.

Rethinking PSA testing

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening can help identify early prostate cancer, but it also can lead men to have biopsies and invasive treatments they may not need. This complexity has caused the medical community to re-evaluate how best to use PSA testing. More doctors are using PSA screening in ways that minimize the use of biopsies, such as by following a worrisome test result with MRI of the prostate. If a man does have a biopsy and a cancer is found, PSA testing can help the man follow active surveillance.

24-hour blood pressure monitoring outperforms clinic readings

Wearing a device that automatically records blood pressure every 30 to 60 minutes for 24 hours (known as ambulatory blood pressure monitoring) may better predict death from cardiovascular disease and other causes than clinic blood pressure readings.

Calcium score may foretell heart risk better than genetic test

A calcium score, which quantifies the plaque inside the heart's arteries, can sometimes improve the ability to assess a person's risk of heart disease beyond the traditional heart disease risk score.

Screening advice that's not just skin deep

Melanoma kills about 8,000 Americans each year. Most people are at low risk of melanoma and don't need annual skin cancer screenings. People should be screened each year if they have risk factors such as dozens of atypical moles, a family history of melanoma or atypical moles, an earlier skin cancer, certain genetic mutations or predisposition, immune-suppressing therapy after organ transplantation or for inflammatory bowel disease, a history of blistering sunburns, or substantial tanning bed use.

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