Medical Tests & Procedures Archive


Novel procedure may lower stubbornly high blood pressure

Renal denervation is a minimally invasive procedure that destroys some of the nerves inside the renal arteries, which supply the kidneys. The procedure lowers blood pressure by disrupting communication between the brain and the kidneys that leads to elevated blood pressure. People with stubbornly high blood pressure may be candidates for the procedure, which is currently approved for use in Europe but not in the United States.

Chest pain from inflamed joints

Costochondritis, which is caused by inflammation of the cartilage between the ribs and the breastbone, causes chest pain that's often mistaken for a heart problem.

Checking for heart murmurs

A heart murmur is the sound of turbulent blood flow within the heart as heard through a stethoscope. In adults, most abnormal murmurs are caused by an aortic or mitral valve that's not working correctly.

Tracking blood pressure at home

Nearly half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure; however, only one-third of those who have the problem are aware of it. This is mostly because people only have blood pressure checked at doctor visits, so they don't know when it increases and requires medical attention. A simple solution is to take regular measurements with a home blood pressure monitor and keep track of their numbers to note changes.

Decoding the price of heart tests and procedures

Prices for six common heart tests and procedures at top-ranked U.S. hospitals showed surprisingly wide variations, according to a 2022 Harvard study. There was a 10-fold difference in the median prices patients pay for a heart ultrasound, and even larger disparities for procedures such as implanting a pacemaker. The differences may reflect power dynamics between hospitals and insurance companies. For both entities, factors such as location, size, and popularity influence that dynamic — which, in turn, affects the market dynamics that dictate costs.

Ablation for atrial fibrillation

Catheter ablation destroys spots in the heart responsible for atrial fibrillation. Although traditionally used as a second-line treatment after medications fail, undergoing ablation earlier in the course of the disease may be a good option. The overall success rate for catheter ablation is around 75%. People sometimes undergo a second procedure if the first one isn't effective; this boosts the success rate to nearly 90%. Many factors, such as age, other health problems, and duration of afib can affect a person's outcome after catheter ablation.

What is non-HDL cholesterol?

For many people, non-HDL cholesterol (which is total cholesterol minus HDL cholesterol) may be as good as (or even more reliable than) LDL for assessing a person's risk of heart problems.

What's the best way to test for low testosterone?

A blood test for total testosterone is the usual first step in men concerned about low T levels. The best time to get tested is between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m.

What is a bubble study?

A bubble study is a test done in conjunction with an echocardiogram to check for the presence of a tiny opening between the heart's upper chambers called a patent foramen ovale. Such an opening could explain how an unexpected stroke happened.

Women who undergo earlier screening less likely to develop colorectal cancer

A 2022 study found that women who begin colorectal cancer screening at age 45 with colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy are far less likely to develop the disease than women who don't undergo any screening or who start screening at age 50.

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