Medical Tests & Procedures Archive

Articles

Pre-sports check-up can prevent sudden death among athletes

Whether the check-up should include an electrocardiogram is an unanswered question.

Sports, and the physical fitness needed to participate in them, provide an extra layer of cardiovascular protection by strengthening the heart, improving the lungs, and making arteries more supple. Sometimes, though, something goes horribly wrong and an athlete suddenly dies while engaged in his or her sport.

Same-day angioplasty feasible, safe

Not everyone needs an overnight hospital stay after this artery-opening procedure.

Artery-opening angioplasty is an amazing procedure. It lets a doctor restore blood flow to hard-working heart muscle without having to cut into the chest or split the rib cage. Assuming all goes well, the recovery time is minimal and the only physical reminder of the procedure is a half-inch scar at the top of one leg.

Minimally invasive treatments for bothersome leg veins

Treating enlarged leg veins can improve their appearance and reduce the risk of swelling, aching, and other problems.

If you have varicose veins — those dark blue or purple leg veins that bulge above the skin's surface — you may dread wearing beachwear and other clothes that expose your legs. With summer just a few months away, this may be a good time to do something about that. But it's not just a cosmetic consideration. Varicose veins can cause pain and discomfort and even, in rare cases, bleeding leg sores. Treating enlarged leg veins can relieve discomfort and prevent complications.

April 2011 references and further reading

Same-day angioplasty feasible, safe

Patel M, Kim M, Karajgikar R, et al. Outcomes of patients discharged the same day following percutaneous coronary intervention. JACC Cardiovascular Interventions 2010; 3:851-8.

Chambers CE, Dehmer GJ, Cox DA, et al. Defining the length of stay following percutaneous coronary intervention: an expert consensus document from the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions. Endorsed by the American College of Cardiology Foundation. Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions 2009; 73:847-58.

Routine screening of the carotid arteries not recommended

The carotid (pronounced ka-RAH-ted) arteries in the neck are the main supply route for blood to get to the brain. But atherosclerotic plaque can gum them up, just as it does the coronary arteries that provision the heart. If that plaque ruptures, blood clots can form that block the carotids or other, smaller arteries, resulting in an ischemic stroke.

Narrowed carotid arteries can be identified with an ultrasound before a stroke occurs. The examinations are noninvasive and inexpensive. Some hospitals are charging the public as little as $45 for an ultrasound of their carotid arteries.

Long-term look at aneurysm repair

A new study explores how people fare after surgery or nonsurgical repair.

A weakened widening of the aorta (the main pipeline for delivering oxygen-rich blood to the body) can be deadly if it bursts. This widening is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm, or triple-A for short. There are two main ways to battle this bulge: traditional surgery and a newer approach called endovascular repair.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: Optimism tinged with caution

Most people with this genetic condition develop thickened heart muscle but lead normal lives.

"You have a really big heart" is usually a wonderful compliment — except when it comes from your cardiologist and the term cardiomyopathy crops up in the conversation. An oversized heart usually isn't a good sign.

March 2011 references and further reading

Same-day angioplasty feasible, safe

Patel M, Kim M, Karajgikar R, et al. Outcomes of patients discharged the same day following percutaneous coronary intervention. JACC Cardiovascular Interventions 2010; 3:851-8.

Chambers CE, Dehmer GJ, Cox DA, et al. Defining the length of stay following percutaneous coronary intervention: an expert consensus document from the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions. Endorsed by the American College of Cardiology Foundation. Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions 2009; 73:847-58.

Hybrid heart surgery expands options

Collaborative approach aims to improve cardiac care.

Heart problems tend to come in clumps. Arteries clog. Valves don't open or close all the way. The heart's rhythm becomes irregular. Many people face not one but two or more treatment decisions.

Just a few years ago, someone who required multiple cardiac procedures might have had separate procedures done by specialists working in different parts of a hospital. In a catheter lab, a cardiologist would insert a stent to reopen an artery. Later, in an operating room, a cardiac surgeon would fix or replace a faulty valve. Hours might pass in between, involving transport from a sterile environment to an unsterile one and back again. In some cases, the two procedures might even require separate hospital visits.

Transfusion and heart surgery: Only when needed

Unnecessary blood transfusion can do more harm than good.

Blood transfusion deserves a prominent place in the pantheon of medical advances. It has saved countless lives on the battlefield and in hospital emergency departments. It is a life-prolonging treatment for people with conditions that prevent the body from making blood or blood components, from kidney disease and cancer to disorders such as hemophilia and sickle cell anemia. But whether blood should be routinely transfused during or after heart surgery is a question that more and more people are asking. The answer is tilting toward "no."

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Sign Up
Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.