Medical Tests & Procedures Archive


Exercise stress test

The treadmill test can reveal hidden problems in the heart.

One way to judge the health of the heart and the arteries that supply it with oxygen and nutrients is to make them work harder. That's the principle behind one of the most commonly used tests in cardiology, the exercise stress test (also known as the exercise tolerance test, treadmill test, or just the stress test). It's much the same thing a mechanic does when he or she races a car's engine.

C-Reactive Protein test to screen for heart disease: Why do we need another test?

The predictive powers of a cholesterol test only go so far. If your LDL is low, your C-reactive protein may be a better sign of impending heart trouble.

The gap between knowing what's good for you and actually doing it can be huge, especially when it comes to something like getting exercise. (Never underestimate the appeal of the sedentary life.) Many of us need a warning-some might say a bit of a kick in the pants-before we'll change our ways and get with a heart-healthy program.

Cholesterol Tests

For decades, cholesterol testing has served as that warning for many. An elevated level of "bad" LDL cholesterol has been just the warning people needed to change their ways. It has played that role for several reasons. People like tests because the results seem objective. Reliable measurement of cholesterol is easy and relatively inexpensive. It makes sense biologically. LDL cholesterol, a protein-wrapped package containing fat and cholesterol, tends to slip out of the bloodstream and lodge in blood vessel walls, forming the plaque that leads to clots and heart attacks.

What tests do you recommend for detecting my risk of heart disease?

Learn not only the risk factors doctors look for, but the one area more doctors are taking to heart when detecting your risk for heart disease. Dr. Paula Johnson shares the necessity of this test and what it could mean for you.

Does hypnosis work?

Hypnosis is actually an approved treatment for the relief of pain and anxiety. Dr. Michael Miller tells more about this form of psychotherapy and what to look for should you decide to try it.

Understanding an ultrasound report

Your first ultrasound can be very exciting — and perplexing. If you need help understanding what will happen or guidance interpreting your ultrasound report, Dr. Peter Doubilet is here to give you a quick tour of the process.

When to get a checkup

How vital is a regular checkup? According to Dr. Howard LeWine, that's a matter of debate. But there are benefits to consider. Find out you should know and when you should go.

When to go to the ER vs primary care provider

Some medical situations can wait until you see your primary care provider. And others are cause to go to the ER. Which is which? Dr. Richard Zane makes the distinction for you in this helpful video.

Measuring blood pressure at home

There are wrong ways and right ways to measure your blood pressure. Watch Harvard Heart Letter Editor Patrick Skerrett demonstrate both.

Buy a monitor that meets the test

There are dozens of home blood pressure monitors on the market. You can buy a good one at your local pharmacy or a big-box store for anywhere between $60 and $100.

Cancer screening as we age

Does it make sense to get a mammogram if you're 80? A colonoscopy if you're 85? Experts are still sorting it out.

Experts have battled over whether women should start getting screening mammograms for breast cancer at age 40 or 50. Hit the half-century mark these days, and chances are that your doctor has a present waiting for you: a referral for a colonoscopy. It's a given that women will start getting Pap smears, the screening test for cervical cancer, when they turn 21 or even sooner, depending on when they become sexually active.

Gene tests for some, not all

Genetic testing helps some people glimpse their cardiovascular future.

The announcement in April 2003 that scientists had worked out the order of the three billion letters in the human genetic code revved up the hopes and imaginations of many people, cardiologists included. Personal genetic report cards, mused a few, will someday help each of us better understand our heart disease risk and point the way to new treatments. They're right, of course. But "someday" will be a while coming "" the human genome isn't giving up its secrets easily, and some of what we're learning we don't quite know what to do with.

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