I “Won” a Heart CT Scan

By Dr. Gary Prant

About five years ago in a silent auction for a charitable organization, I bid on and won a Heart Saver CT Scan. The test cost $100 – all of which went to the charitable organization. What a great deal I thought. How nice was it of this cardiology group to donate the test!

Dr. Gary Prant, Podiatrist

Dr. Gary Prant

Today I read of a new $40 million extensive study of the heart CT scan. The study reveals that people who were checked with the heart CT scan after seeing a doctor for chest pain had no less risk of heart attack, dying, or being hospitalized months later than those who took a simple treadmill test or other older types of examinations. Okay, so far no problem. At least the heart CT scan is not worse than the older tests, right?

This extensive new study notes that the heart CT scan is the equivalent of 500 to 700 regular x-rays – wow! This study claims that if more people were told the radiation dose before agreeing to the test more would end up with safer alternatives. I had no idea this test exposed me to that much radiation and I’ll bet most people don’t know that.

Radiation can raise the risk of developing cancer, yet few doctors are choosing heart tests that use no radiation, this $40 million study revealed. One independent expert, Dr. Eric Topol of the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California was quoted as saying, “It’s such a bad reflection on American medicine. Look at how much radiation they gave these poor people, that is despicable.”

Now I feel like a fool for having undergone this test having had no heart symptoms just because I “won” it into a silent auction. The moral of the story is not only can the information high-tech tests provide us sometimes be of questionable value– sometimes the test themselves can be potentially harmful.

Caveat emptor!

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