Medical Tests & Procedures Archive


Is broken heart syndrome becoming more common?

Broken heart syndrome—an uncommon condition linked to severe emotional or physical stress that occurs mostly in women—may be more common than previously thought. The increase in diagnoses may reflect heightened awareness of all forms of heart disease in women. The condition may result from the surge of adrenaline that affects the heart’s muscle cells and blood vessels, causing the heart’s left ventricle to temporarily change shape. The heart resembles a Japanese clay pot used to trap an octopus, called a tako-tsubo, which is why broken heart syndrome was originally dubbed takotsubo cardiomyopathy.

Abdominal aneurysms: Uncommon but potentially dangerous

Up to 7% of people ages 50 and older (mostly male smokers) have abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAAs). In rare cases, these balloon-like pouches can expand and rupture with little warning, which can be life-threatening. Medicare covers screening tests for AAA for men ages 65 to 75 who have smoked at least 100 cigarettes in their lives and for anyone with a family history of AAA.

Recommendation calls for earlier diabetes screening in people who are overweight

According to a new recommendation from the US Preventive Services Task force, diabetes screening should begin age 35 for people who are overweight, defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater.

Answers to prostate cancer questions

Many men have questions regarding the testing and screening processes for prostate cancer, such as whether prostate-specific antigen tests are still the standard, when it is time for a biopsy, and what new technologies are available to help with a more accurate diagnosis. Harvard Medical School prostate cancer expert Dr. Marc Garnick provides the answers.

Adding ultrasound to mammography improves cancer detection rate

A combination of mammography and ultrasound may increase accuracy of breast cancer screening.

If it’s not breast cancer, should you worry?

Most breast lumps are not cancerous. Some 80% of biopsies are negative. But some women develop noncancerous breast conditions that may raise their risk of a future cancer. For women with these conditions, doctors may recommend additional monitoring. This might include additional screenings, or screenings using other technology, such as MRI or breast ultrasound.

From the wrist to the heart: A safer route for angioplasty?

At least half of all artery-opening angioplasties done in the United States now begin at the wrist instead of the top of the thigh. The wrist (or transradial) approach is easier on patients, safer, and less expensive. After the procedure, people can sit up right away instead of lying flat for several hours, and they are much less likely to experience bleeding, including serious bleeding in the abdomen. The lower complication rates mean people can leave the hospital sooner, which translates to decreased costs.

You don't say? Brain space

It’s thought that the average person uses just 10% of the brain. While some parts of the brain may be more active at any given time or during a particular activity, there is no part that is known to be unused or completely unnecessary.

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.

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.

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