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Cardiac Catheterizations: Too Many Performed?

Study Shows Many Patients Who Have the Procedure Don't Have Blocked Arteries

Second Opinion

American Heart Association president Clyde Yancy, MD, agrees that such studies are needed, but he says it is not clear from the current research that too many cardiac catheterizations are being done.

"A test that fails to find something may be just as valuable as a positive test," he says. "A negative test can reassure both the patient and the doctor. It can also lead to less unnecessary treatment, which can save health care dollars."

The biggest predictors of clinically significant artery blockages in the study were recognized risk factors for heart disease, such older age, being male, tobacco use, and having diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

Yancy says understanding these risk factors and addressing those that are modifiable is the most important thing patients can do to lower their heart attack and stroke risk.

"If an older male who smokes and is overweight and has diabetes walks into my office, I already know there is a pretty high likelihood of [heart or vascular] disease," he says.

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