Medical Tests & Procedures Archive

Articles

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.

National task force proposes updated breast cancer screening recommendations

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released updated draft guidelines in May 2023 proposing that women at average risk of breast cancer be screened every other year starting at age 40.

Older men continue to have excessive PSA testing

Guidelines recommend against routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing in men ages 70 and older. Still, two 2023 studies found that men in this age group are having too many PSA tests.

The kidney-heart connection

More than one in seven adults has chronic kidney disease, yet many of them aren't aware of the problem. Early-stage kidney disease often has no symptoms, but the condition slowly and silently worsens over time. The two most common causes of chronic kidney disease—high blood pressure and diabetes—are also leading risk factors for heart disease, which means the two diseases often overlap. Most people know their blood pressure and cholesterol values, but few are familiar with the tests used to assess kidney health. They include serum creatinine, estimated glomerular filtration rate, and urine protein tests.

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