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Researchers Urge For More Appropriate Use Of Cardiac Stress Testing With Imaging

Update Date: Oct 09, 2014 08:10 AM EDT

Overuse of cardiac stress testing with imaging has led to rising healthcare costs and unnecessary radiation exposure to patient, found a new study. 

The study is first comprehensive examination of trends in cardiac stress testing that utilizes imaging. 

Researchers also found that there is no significant racial or ethnic disparities in its use.

"Cardiac stress testing is an important clinical tool," said  Joseph Ladapo, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Departments of Medicine, "but we are over using imaging for reasons unrelated to clinical need. This is causing preventable harm and increasing healthcare costs.

"Reducing unnecessary testing also will concomitantly reduce the incidence of radiation related cancer," he added. "We estimate that about 500 people get cancer each year in the US from radiation received during a cardiac stress test when, in fact, they most probably didn't need any radiological imaging in the first place. While this number might seem relatively small, we must remember that 'first, do no harm' is one of the guiding principles in medicine."

Researchers concluded that there was no evidence of a lower likelihood of black patients receiving a cardiac stress test with imaging than their white counterparts. However they did find some evidence of disparity in Hispanic patients. 

The study is published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

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