November 18, 2014 | Vol. 141, No. 226

Lifelong Health: Cardiac stress tests are often performed too frequently

Annually, hundreds of thousands of healthy Americans have a stress test to screen for coronary artery disease. The stress test can be done in one of two ways. The heart can either be stressed by exercising on a treadmill or by injecting a radioisotope and scanning the heart before and after exercise. If exercise is difficult, the heart can be stressed by injecting the medication Persantine. In either case, abnormalities can identify coronary artery disease. Frequently, the heart is monitored during the stress test using both an EKG and an echocardiogram.

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