Heart Patients Get Too Much Radiation

Experts are urging cardiologists to reduce patient radiation because of possible severe risks.

The paper, published in the European Heart Journal, said that cardiology accounts for 40 percent of patient radiology and equals more than 50 chest X-rays per person per year.

Lead author Dr Eugenio Picano said that statistics indicate a need to re-evaluate the practice. “Unfortunately, radiation risks are not widely known to all cardiologists and patients and this creates a potential for unwanted damage that will appear as cancers, decades down the line. We need the entire cardiology community to be proactive in minimizing the radiological friendly fire in our imaging labs.”

According to the paper, computed tomography (CT), percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), cardiac electrophysiology and nuclear cardiology deliver an average dose equivalent to 750 chest X-rays (with wide variation from 100 to 2,000 chest X-rays) per procedure. Specialists use these procedures for all forms of cardiac disease.

 Picano added, “Even in the best centers…30 to 50% of examinations are totally or partially inappropriate according to specialty recommendations. When examinations are appropriate, the dose is often not systematically audited and therefore

However, patients can learn to protect themselves.

Picano suggested that patients avoid “self-prescribing screening examinations promoted by irresponsible advertisers. Second, before any testing they should ask their doctor what is the likely radiation dose they will get from that examination. After the exam they should receive the true delivered dose in a written report.”

He added: “The smart patient, and the smart cardiologist, cannot be afraid of radiation since it is essential and often life saving. But they must be very afraid of radiation negligence or unawareness." 


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