Medical Tests & Procedures Archive


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.

How to get rid of warts

Warts are an unsightly nuisance that can take a year or more to go away on their own. Several effective, noninvasive treatments are available.

Lead poisoning: What parents should know and do

Lead poisoning is a serious health risk for children. And yet, they may be exposed to lead in their daily lives. Learn the dangers of lead exposure and what you can do to keep your child safe.

Aortic valve replacement options

People younger than 65 with a bicuspid aortic valve who develop aortic stenosis may need open heart surgery to replace the valve. A less invasive procedure isn't possible for several reasons, including challenges related to the valve anatomy.

Should you be tested for sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition marked by brief pauses in breathing, often triggering loud snoring, grunts, gasps, and choking noises. Because sleep apnea can put stress on your heart and circulation, it's important to learn the signs and symptoms and get treatment.

Prediabetes: A window of opportunity

About 96 million Americans have prediabetes, defined by elevated blood sugar levels that are not high enough to qualify as diabetes. Risk factors include overweight or obesity, family history, and inactivity. People with prediabetes may have more infections and frequent urination or blurry vision after big meals. Lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, eating healthy foods, drinking alcohol moderately, and not smoking may prevent prediabetes from progressing to diabetes.

Should I get a calcium score?

A coronary artery calcium scan (often called a calcium scan) uses a special type of CT scan to look for calcium deposits in the lining of the heart's arteries. The results can help people decide whether to start taking a statin.

At-home tests: Help or hindrance?

Many people have used at-home medical tests to detect COVID-19. Other home tests are available that can screen for, diagnose, and monitor dozens of health conditions, including pregnancy, infections, cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and colorectal cancer. The tests are accessible and convenient, and results may spur people to seek necessary treatment. But test results may be inaccurate or confusing, provoking unneeded or risky further testing or treatment. People should tell their doctors if they use at-home medical tests.

The skinny on fatty liver

The body's second largest organ, the liver is responsible for more than 500 bodily functions. One of the liver's greatest threats is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), an umbrella term that includes several forms of liver disease. Most people with NAFLD have a type known as simple fatty liver. However, up to 20% of people with NAFLD develop inflammation in the liver known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Left unchecked, this more dangerous form can progress into fibrosis (scarring) and potentially cirrhosis (severe scarring and liver damage). Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, increasing exercise, and adopting a plant-based diet are the best means to manage and prevent NAFLD.

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