A Viewpoint From the Front Lines of Heart Screenings

Many of us on both sides of the screening debate are concerned about the risk of false positives. That is why we have refined our electrocardiogram interpretations, thanks to the development of the Seattle Criteria. In our own program experience, this criteria has resulted in us performing echocardiograms in only 3 percent of our screening population. Given that we have identified cardiac conditions by echocardiography, our false positive rate is closer to 2 percent. We consider this acceptable in the context of the false-positives rates of other types of screening programs. An echocardiogram is thankfully painless and without significant risk, although it does add cost, but should also be considered in the context of needle and surgical biopsy rates for false-positive mammograms or the incidental diagnosis of benign colon polyps that are removed during colonoscopies. Read More >>>

By James Beckerman, MD, FACC, member of the ACC’s Sports and Exercise Cardiology Section.