For Low Risk Patients, USPSTF Does Not Recommend Adding ECG Screening to Standard Risk Management Assessment

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Michael Barry MD Director of the Informed Medical Decisions Program Health Decision Sciences Center at Massachusetts General Hospital Physician at Massachusetts General Hospit Professor of Medicine,Harvard Medical School

Dr. Barry

Dr. Michael Barry MD
Director of the Informed Medical Decisions Program
Health Decision Sciences Center at Massachusetts General Hospital
Physician at Massachusetts General Hospit
Professor of Medicine,Harvard Medical School

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Cardiovascular disease (CVD), which can lead to heart attack and stroke, causes 1 in 3 deaths among adults in the United States. The Task Force reviewed the latest research on whether adding an electrocardiogram—or ECG, which is a test that records a person’s heart activity—to the standard ways we measure CVD risk can help prevent heart attack and stroke in people who do not have symptoms and are generally healthy, as well as people who are already at risk for these conditions.

The evidence shows that adding screening with ECG to the ways we already measure CVD risk is unlikely to help prevent heart attack or stroke in people at low risk. It can also cause harms—such as those from follow-on procedures like angiography and angioplasty, which can lead to heart attack, kidney failure, and even death. As a result, the Task Force recommends against screening with ECG for this group.

For those who might benefit the most—people who are already at medium or high risk of CVD—there is not enough evidence to say whether or not adding screening with an ECG to standard care helps prevent heart attack and stroke. This is an area where we need more research.  Continue reading