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A new survey by Consumers Union finds that most 40 to 60 year olds with no symptoms or risk factors who see a doctor are routinely getting unnecessary heart tests including EKGs (50%), exercise stress tests (21%), and ultrasounds of the carotid arteries (7%). Few respondents were aware of the risks and complications that can result from over-testing. 87% felt that it was “better to have a scare that turns out to be nothing than to not get tested at all.” Few understood the risks of false positive results including costly and potentially risky further testing, procedures and even unnecessary treatment such as medication for a problem that doesn’t exist. Almost two thirds said that they would have a full battery of tests if it were free.
Ellen Andrews