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Heart test may be overused

Wall Street Journal, March 11, 2010

The coronary angiogram, a widely used test to detect blockages in the heart's arteries, often turns up little or no evidence of disease, a new study found, suggesting that patients are frequently exposed unnecessarily to the risks and costs of the invasive examination. During the tests, cardiologists thread a catheter into the heart to take an X-ray movie to look for obstructions that might cause chest pain or increase the risk of a heart attack. More than a million U.S. patients undergo the diagnostic test each year at a cost of about $10,000 each, the Wall Street Journal reports.