Medical Tests & Procedures Archive


24-hour blood pressure monitoring outperforms clinic readings

Wearing a device that automatically records blood pressure every 30 to 60 minutes for 24 hours (known as ambulatory blood pressure monitoring) may better predict death from cardiovascular disease and other causes than clinic blood pressure readings.

Calcium score may foretell heart risk better than genetic test

A calcium score, which quantifies the plaque inside the heart's arteries, can sometimes improve the ability to assess a person's risk of heart disease beyond the traditional heart disease risk score.

Screening advice that's not just skin deep

Melanoma kills about 8,000 Americans each year. Most people are at low risk of melanoma and don't need annual skin cancer screenings. People should be screened each year if they have risk factors such as dozens of atypical moles, a family history of melanoma or atypical moles, an earlier skin cancer, certain genetic mutations or predisposition, immune-suppressing therapy after organ transplantation or for inflammatory bowel disease, a history of blistering sunburns, or substantial tanning bed use.

National task force proposes updated breast cancer screening recommendations

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released updated draft guidelines in May 2023 proposing that women at average risk of breast cancer be screened every other year starting at age 40.

Older men continue to have excessive PSA testing

Guidelines recommend against routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing in men ages 70 and older. Still, two 2023 studies found that men in this age group are having too many PSA tests.

The kidney-heart connection

More than one in seven adults has chronic kidney disease, yet many of them aren't aware of the problem. Early-stage kidney disease often has no symptoms, but the condition slowly and silently worsens over time. The two most common causes of chronic kidney disease—high blood pressure and diabetes—are also leading risk factors for heart disease, which means the two diseases often overlap. Most people know their blood pressure and cholesterol values, but few are familiar with the tests used to assess kidney health. They include serum creatinine, estimated glomerular filtration rate, and urine protein tests.

Older women disproportionately diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer

A 2023 study indicates that women 65 and older are diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer more often than younger women, and they have a worse prognosis.

Good intentions, perilous results

Some supplements can interfere with lab tests to diagnose or monitor health conditions, which can lead to life-threatening misdiagnoses or unnecessary additional testing. Biotin (vitamin B7) can skew results from a blood test to diagnose heart attack. Other problematic supplements include vitamin C, which can interfere with blood sugar readings and stool tests; calcium, which can make bones appear denser than they are on bone density scans; and creatine, which can lead to falsely high readings of creatinine, a marker for kidney disease.

Advances in varicose vein treatment

Unlike a few decades ago, there are now a number of minimally invasive ways to treat varicose veins. Doctors can shut down problem veins with injections of various substances or certain catheter procedures. A treatment currently in clinical trials in the United States promises to simply "zap" away varicose veins from outside the body. Called high-intensity focused ultrasound, it converts sound waves into a focused beam of heat that seals a malfunctioning vein.

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