Healthcare costs could be cut by more appropriate use of cardiac stress imaging

In new research, investigators concluded that overuse of cardiac stress testing using advanced imaging technology has led to increasing healthcare costs in the United States and unnecessary radiation exposure to patients.
Researchers from the New York University Langone Medical Center in what is believed to be the first comprehensive examination of trends in cardiac stress testing utilizing imaging, also revealed that there are no significant racial or ethnic health disparities in its use. They also made US estimates of the cost of unnecessary cardiac stress testing with imaging and the health burden of this testing, in relation to cancer risk due to radiation exposure.
Cardiac stress testing, especially with imaging, has been at the forefront of debate about rising healthcare costs, inappropriate use, and patient safety in the context of radiation exposure. Joseph Ladapo, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the departments of medicine and population health at NYU Langone, and the lead author of the study, and colleagues wanted to determine whether US trends in cardiac stress testing with imaging may be attributable to population shifts in demographics, risk factors, and provider characteristics, and to assess whether racial/ethnic discrepancies exist in physician decision making.
The investigators designed their study utilizing data from the US National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and US National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey from 1993 to 2010. Patients chosen for the study were adults without coronary heart disease who were referred for cardiac stress tests.
Between 1993