Medical Tests & Procedures Archive

Articles

Do BMI numbers add up?

For decades, researchers have used body mass index (BMI) to estimate a person’s body fat mass and predict possible health risks. While BMI is helpful, it can’t accurately measure the type of fat people accumulate, especially among older adults. Monitoring one’s waist size with a simple measuring tape may be a better option.

Radiation risk from medical imaging

Given the huge increase in the use of CT scans, concern about radiation exposure is warranted. Patients should try to keep track of their cumulative radiation exposure, and only have tests when necessary.

A closer look at heart disease risk

Sometimes the presence of atherosclerosis, the disease underlying most heart attacks, is not clear or easily recognized, especially before a heart attack or other crisis happens. In those instances, doctors may rely on a coronary artery calcium (CAC) scan, which measures the amount of calcium in the heart's arteries, high levels of which are associated with cardiovascular disease. The CAC results can help predict a person's risk for heart attack or stroke, even if that person doesn't have obvious risk factors or symptoms.

A blood test may predict increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease

A study published online June 2, 2021, by the journal Brain found that a blood test may help to predict an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Back to the doctor

People who’ve skipped medical check-ups for a while should visit their primary care doctor, dental hygienist, and eye doctor. A primary care doctor will consider a person’s blood pressure, medications, weight, alcohol intake, gait, balance, memory, hearing, mood, and levels of physical activity and socialization. To prepare for the visit, one should write down questions for the doctor and bring a list of all medications. At the appointment, one should take notes and ask any questions needed to understand the doctor’s instructions.

When imaging tests reveal unexpected findings

Heart imaging tests sometimes reveal potentially worrisome abnormalities in or near the heart that are unrelated to the original reason for the test. These "incidentalomas" are usually harmless, but not always. Before undergoing heart imaging tests, people should understand how the results may change their treatment and if they are willing to receive that therapy. If a test reveals an incidentaloma, a second opinion from a highly experienced cardiologist or radiologist may help patients feel more confident that a concerning finding is treated appropriately.

Drinking sugary beverages associated with colon cancer risk

Drinking two or more sugary drinks a day appeared to more than double the risk of colorectal cancer in women.

Reducing heart risks in the wake of breast cancer treatment

Hormone therapy is a highly successful breast cancer treatment for women, but it can elevate cardiovascular risk. Women can reduce those risks by being vigilant about their heart health and working closely with their doctors. Women who have taken or are taking these medications as part of breast cancer treatment should focus on adopting a healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly, and keeping close tabs on their blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar levels.

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