Expensive medical tests like CT scans and MRIs help doctors better diagnose disease. But sometimes the best tools physicians use are decidedly low-tech, like a tape measure or bathroom scale.
Now, a new study suggests cardiologists may want to add a stopwatch to their medical bag. More than half of patients who undergo open-heart surgery in the U.S. and Canada are at least 65 years old and growing numbers of them are in their 80s or even 90s. Timing how long it takes an elderly patient to walk five meters, or about 15 feet, significantly improves a doctor's ability to predict whether a patient will be able to withstand the rigor and stress of surgery, the study found.