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Invasive cardiac test may be overused by ER doctors

Category: Organ Specific Testing

U.S. researchers are reporting that cardiac catheterization, an invasive test used on patients with chest pain to determine whether a blood vessel is totally or partially blocked, may be currently overused by doctors in emergency rooms.

Cardiac catheterization is primarily used to identify the presence, location and severity of coronary atherosclerosis, says lead researcher Manesh Patel, a cardiologist with the Duke Heart Center.

In the study, the researchers analyzed the medical data of approximately 400,000 patients who were admitted to the hospital with chest pain, but without a previous history of heart disease. Of those patients, only 37.6 percent had obstructed coronary arteries. Moreover, a total of 83.9 percent of those had undergone a noninvasive test before catheterization.

"We're spending a lot of energy and money to evaluate chest pain which often leads to cardiac catheterization, which, we now know, often finds that patients don't have significant obstructive disease," said Patel.

"Our research shows that our methods for identifying patients at risk for obstructive disease need significant improvement," he concluded.

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