Heart scans: the triumph of profit over science

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

This kind of ad is part of a growing marketing strategy to cash in on your fears. They’re run by for-profit hospitals, medical centres, and sometimes just non-professional entrepreneurs who park their huge mobile body imaging vans in church, community or big box store parking lots.

For example, an ad from the Heart Hospital of Austin in Texas reads:

“Find a new way to tell Dad you love him! Show your love with a HeartSaver CT Scan!”

The website Track Your Plaque warns:

“The old tests for heart disease were wrong – dead wrong. Heart scans are the most important health test you can get!”

A radio ad for the Princeton Longevity Center in Princeton, New Jersey asks:

“Does your annual physical use the latest technology to prevent heart disease before it strikes?”

And this center’s website further promises that its full-day exams – which include heart scans and usually are not covered by health insurance plans – can detect the “silent killers that are often missed in a typical physical exam or routine blood tests.”

Yet most major health agencies (like the American Heart Association, the American College of Radiology, the American Cancer Society) do not recommend routine use of heart scans in low-risk people without heart-related symptoms.  Continue reading “Heart scans: the triumph of profit over science”

Heart screening scans – or scams?

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

In the words of the cantankerous Dr. Gregory House of TV fame, CT calcium scan screening tests are

“…useless because you could probably scan every one of us and find 50 doo-dads that look like tumours”.

That’s not quite what those who are promoting these screening scans tell us. They tell us that we really should be forking over $600-$3,000 to them in order to get a CT (computed tomography) calcium scan to screen for possible disease.

I’ve been seeing more and more ads marketing full-body or heart screening scan services at for-profit clinics, shopping malls, church basements, and even in tractor trailers hauling imaging machines. One ad for a CT heart screening scan promised that it can:

“…detect calcium deposits (or the hardening of plaque) in the arteries of the heart. This is useful information if determined early, prior to a heart attack. With this knowledge, a person may be empowered to change his or her lifestyle and slow the progression of heart disease or even prevent a heart attack.”

“May be empowered to change”?  Why would you have to spend $600 – $3,000 to “empower” yourself to start improving your lifestyle? Here’s a cheaper alternative: send me 50 bucks now and I’ll empower you right upside the head to quit smoking, eat more veggies, and do more exercise from this day forward.

Continue reading “Heart screening scans – or scams?”