The Defy Aging Newsletter
Anti-aging psychology, holistic health, and wellness
a biweekly e-mail newsletter for helping you think, feel, look, and be more youthful and live with purpose.
July 31, 2008 Number 192
Wild Goose Chase Medical Tests
ACTION TO TAKE
Before pursuing medical tests, consider where the trail may lead.
Dr. Alan Zelicoff is a top researcher on evidence-based medicine. He crunches data to see what works and what doesn't. I recently had the great pleasure of interviewing him on Ageless Lifestyles Radio. He described how primary care doctors often suggest getting a cardiogram or refer a patient to a cardiologist for cardiogram and exam. When there is a family history of cardiovascular disease or related disease, and/or when there are symptoms, this can be critical to better health and even saving lives.
Dr. Zelicoff says the data shows, however, that when there is no family history and no symptoms, the result is usually a wild goose chase. Minor abnormalities on a cardiogram or stress test are common and for no risk/no symptom patients typically benign. But once the test is run, the doctor feels obligated to check it out further just in case. Not to do so could put the doctor at risk for a lawsuit if the person later becomes disabled or dies from anything that could be related to the abnormality. Also, running tests is a cost center.
This often leads to stress tests which are basically harmless but cost time and money. Abnormalities in the cardiogram or stress test often lead to scans (expensive and some types have radiation exposure). The scans in turn often find abnormalities that are typically benign but obligate the physician to explore further. Then there is the angiogram, which involves making an incision in the thigh, threading a wire with a camera through an artery and into your heart. In no risk/no history patients the results are typically benign. The surgery itself, however, risks damaging the vessels or dislodging a plaque deposit.
So Dr. Zelicoff says that for no history/no symptom patients, the data indicate that getting a cardiogram is likely to do more harm than good. He does, however, recommend that no history/no symptom patients get a cardiogram in their fifties or sixties to have a baseline comparison in case they appear to have cardiovascular problems later in life.
You probably guessed that he is not if favor of full body scan fishing expeditions. They typically find something that is usually nothing--and they expose your body to a lot of radiation.
If you would learn more about what Dr. Zelicoff had to say, you can get the podcast (free) at http://agelesslifestyles.com/2008/07/common-harmful-medical-practices-and-treatments/ or information from his book More Harm Than Good.
First do no harm.
~While popular culture attributes this admonition to the Hippocratic Oath, it is not in the Hippocratic Oath. The origin is unclear.
Do you know how to avoid overexposure to X-rays? Join an HMO.
I'm addicted to placebos. I'd give them up, but it wouldn't make any difference.
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"Dr. Michael Brickey, The Anti-Aging Psychologist, teaches people to think, feel, look and be more youthful. He is an inspiring keynote speaker and Oprah-featured author. His works include: Defy Aging, 52 baby steps to Grow Young, and Reverse Aging (anti-aging hypnosis CDs). Visit www.NotAging.com for a free report on anti-aging secrets and a free newsletter with practical anti-aging tips."