Thursday, May 21, 2009

CNN has curious story on heart exercise stress test



CNN Health has a story by Anne Harding about an abbreviated exercise test, to predict mortality in older people with suspected heart problems, including angina, hypertension, cardiomyopathy, and congestive heart failure. The test sounds like it is related to the typical electrocardiographic stress test, where leads are attached to the patient’s chest and torso and the patient walks on a treadmill for 20 minutes or so. Test preparation requires abstaining from caffeine or alcohol and sometimes fasting that morning. It might involve wearing a Holter monitor for some time. In male patients, it could require some shaving,

I’m a little surprised to see a lot made of it now on CNN, as the test has been common for decades.

Back in 1999, ABC news anchor Charles Gibson underwent an emergency weekend angioplasty after feeling chest pressure, and his medical progress was shown on the morning news. There was a lot of discussion of the stress tests that he would take regularly from then on.

In my own case, having turned 65 and on Medicare, I was told that my doctor would not renew my own prescription of Atenolol until I came in for a battery of tests. I want to save Medicare money with less medicine, and ignorance is bliss. The government is encouraging me to take unnecessary tests that I don’t want.

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