Limited Benefit To Expedited Stress Testing of Chest Pain In ER Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Alexander Sandhu, MD MS

Cardiology Fellow
Stanford University

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

Response: Millions of patients present to the emergency department with chest pain but most do not have lab or EKG findings that indicate the patient is having a heart attack. In patients without signs of a heart attack, stress testing is frequently used to determine the need for further workup and treatment. However, there is limited evidence regarding the benefit of stress testing in these patients.

We evaluated how cardiac testing – stress testing and coronary angiography – in these low-risk patients was associated with clinical outcomes. We used a statistical approach that took advantage of the fact that testing is more available on weekdays than weekends. We found that testing was associated with more angiography and revascularization (coronary stenting or coronary artery bypass surgery) but was not associated with a reduction in future heart attacks.

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Cardiac Stress Testing Increases Modestly in Commercially Insured Patients

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Vinay Kini, MD, MS Division of Cardiovascular Medicine Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania The Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia

Dr. Vinay Kini

Vinay Kini, MD, MS
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
The Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia

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

Response: Recent studies have shown that use of cardiac stress tests has declined by about 25% among Medicare beneficiaries and by about 50% in Kaiser Permanente over the last several years. However, the reasons for these declines is not well understood. Decreases in the use of stress testing could be due to dissemination of appropriate use criteria and other clinical practice guidelines, advances in preventive care, reductions in reimbursement for testing, or other health system organizational characteristics.

Therefore, our goal was to determine whether similar declines in testing are observed among a nationally representative cohort of commercially insured patients. We identified over 2 million stress tests performed among 33 million members of the commercial insurance company, and found that there was a 3% increase in the overall use of stress testing in this cohort between 2005 and 2012. Declines in the use of nuclear SPECT tests were offset by increases in the use of stress echocardiography, exercise electrocardiography, and newer stress test modalities such as coronary computed tomography angiography.

The largest increase in use of testing was seen among younger individuals – there was a 60% increase in use of testing among patients aged 25-34, and a 30% increase among individuals aged 35-44.

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