HCA Midwest Health - November 21, 2017

I told the doctor that I just had an EKG and echocardiogram that both came back fine. Now she wants to run another one. Isn’t that a duplication? Isn’t that expensive?

Sometimes duplicate tests may seem confusing or frustrating, but all tests are not carved in stone. Some tests can be a snapshot, showing one condition at one moment in time. Taking those results and comparing them to the same test at a different time can give your doctor a lot of critical information. It may cost more in the short term, but is worth it if it prevents or helps diagnose a serious illness like cancer, stroke or heart disease.

For example, an echocardiogram (echo) uses ultrasound to show the size and movement of your heart, its walls and its valves. An echo can show problems with blood flow through the valves or problems with the thickness of the heart walls or weakened heart muscles, making them pump less. Your heart is pumping all the time, so every echocardiogram is different. If you’ve had surgery or other treatment, an echo can show some of the changes.

An electrocardiogram (EKG) shows the electrical activity of your heart by tracing out wavy lines on a screen or paper. It can identify how well your heart is working (or not working). Its output may show damage to the heart from a heart attack. It can also show other abnormalities like arrhythmias.

Each test provides a snapshot of your heart. They tell your doctor how your heart is performing at that time and what has happened to it recently. These can change in emergency situations or even when you don’t realize it. An EKG today is not the same as an EKG from yesterday if you had a heart attack last night. Some people have silent heart attacks and don’t even learn they had them until much later, when testing shows that one occurred.

So tests may seem repetitive and useless to you, but each new test result gives your doctors new information to work with to understand your condition.

If you have questions about test duplications, talk to your doctor about why they are recommending it in your particular case. No one knows your body better than you and your doctor.

tags: heart care , t4b