Medical Tests & Procedures Archive

Articles

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.

Treatment for an enlarged prostate

Benign prostatic hyperplasia, also known as an enlarged prostate, occurs in about 50% of men by age 60. It can lead to urination problems like a hesitant, interrupted, or weak urine stream; dribbling after urinating; a feeling that the bladder does not completely empty; and more frequent urination, especially at night. Medication and lifestyle changes are the first-line treatments, but if these don't work, men can choose from several types of surgery or less-invasive procedures to help manage symptoms.

Should I continue to get regular PSA testing after age 70?

Whether or not to continue PSA testing after age 70 depends on many factors, but especially a man's family history of prostate cancer and how comfortable he is about getting a biopsy or treatment if the test results suggest possible cancer.

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Sign Up
Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.