Group Urges More Cardiac Testing
Men older than age 45 and women older than age 55 should receive tests for heart disease, regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms, according to a report published on Monday in the American Journal of Cardiology, the Indianapolis Star reports. The report, compiled by the Screening for Heart Attack Prevention and Education task force, urges men and women in the age groups to undergo a CT scan or ultrasound to determine whether plague build-up is evident in their arteries.
Most major insurance companies will not cover the cost of the tests, which can range from $100 to $400. According to the report, the tests could prevent more than 90,000 deaths each year and save about $21.5 billion annually in health costs for treating heart disease. The traditional heart disease screening method -- which examines a person's family history, blood pressure, age, cholesterol and history of smoking and diabetes -- is inadequate to properly determine the risk for heart disease, according to the task force.
According to the report, about half of the 1.5 million people in the U.S. who experience a heart attack each year were unaware they had heart disease (Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, 7/10).
Morteza Naghavi -- task force chair and founder of its parent group, the Association for Eradication of Heart Attack -- said, "A lot of people who have normal or average cholesterol and normal to average blood pressure, you put them through imaging and find an enormous amount of plaque. These people are walking time bombs" (Stewart, Newark Star-Ledger, 7/10).
Elaine Moen, a cardiologist with the Care Group at the Heart Center of Indiana, said, "The insurance companies need to look hard at this," adding, "Do they need to pay for the huge outlay when someone has a heart attack, or should they get more into the realm of prevention?" (Indianapolis Star, 7/10).
Robert Bonow, past president of the American Heart Association, said, "There is no evidence that this plan would work" (Newark Star-Ledger, 7/10).