Medical Tests & Procedures Archive


FDA wants women to understand the risks and benefits related to breast implants

The FDA recently moved to help make certain that women considering breast implants have a clear picture of what implants involve before moving ahead with surgery. The agency announced a series of changes in October 2021. These include new labeling requirements for breast implant manufacturers, a requirement that facilities provide patients with a checklist outlining potential risks and benefits related to breast implants, and updated screening recommendations to detect leaks in silicone breast implants.

Do you need a coronary calcium scan?

A test called a coronary artery calcium (CAC) scan uses a special type of x-ray to look for plaque in the arteries of the heart, which raises the risk of heart-related problems. While CAC scans can be valuable for detecting people at higher risk of heart problems from plaque buildup, this test isn’t right for everyone. It’s typically most useful for people who don’t yet have symptoms of heart disease, but who do have some risk factors. Determining how much plaque is in the arteries can help guide decision making about preventive strategies. The test is less useful for people at very low or very high risk for heart disease.

A look at health screenings

Men are less likely than women to get regular exams and tests, especially when they are younger. But as they age, routine screenings are essential. There are certain tests most men should have at some point, including ones for colon cancer, high blood pressure, hepatitis C, diabetes, and HIV. Other tests men should consider if they are at high risk for specific ailments, such as abdominal aortic aneurysm, hepatitis B, and lung cancer.

Is broken heart syndrome becoming more common?

Broken heart syndrome—an uncommon condition linked to severe emotional or physical stress that occurs mostly in women—may be more common than previously thought. The increase in diagnoses may reflect heightened awareness of all forms of heart disease in women. The condition may result from the surge of adrenaline that affects the heart’s muscle cells and blood vessels, causing the heart’s left ventricle to temporarily change shape. The heart resembles a Japanese clay pot used to trap an octopus, called a tako-tsubo, which is why broken heart syndrome was originally dubbed takotsubo cardiomyopathy.

Abdominal aneurysms: Uncommon but potentially dangerous

Up to 7% of people ages 50 and older (mostly male smokers) have abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs). In rare cases, these balloon-like pouches can expand and rupture with little warning, which can be life-threatening. Medicare covers screening tests for AAA for men ages 65 to 75 who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lives and for anyone with a family history of AAA.

Recommendation calls for earlier diabetes screening in people who are overweight

According to a new recommendation from the US Preventive Services Task force, diabetes screening should begin age 35 for people who are overweight, defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater.

Types of aortic valve problems

In aortic stenosis, the heart's aortic valve narrows and can't open fully. In aortic regurgitation, the valve doesn't close properly. The cause may be present at birth (congenital) or acquired later in life, and the problems can occur alone or together.

Answers to prostate cancer questions

Many men have questions regarding the testing and screening processes for prostate cancer, such as whether prostate-specific antigen tests are still the standard, when it is time for a biopsy, and what new technologies are available to help with a more accurate diagnosis. Harvard Medical School prostate cancer expert Dr. Marc Garnick provides the answers.

Adding ultrasound to mammography improves cancer detection rate

A combination of mammography and ultrasound may increase accuracy of breast cancer screening.

If it’s not breast cancer, should you worry?

Most breast lumps are not cancerous. Some 80% of biopsies are negative. But some women develop noncancerous breast conditions that may raise their risk of a future cancer. For women with these conditions, doctors may recommend additional monitoring. This might include additional screenings, or screenings using other technology, such as MRI or breast ultrasound.

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