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Making the right decisions

Some tests and procedures to save our lives may have the potential to increase risks of stroke, cancer and dementia

Published Fri, Oct 25, 2013 · 10:00 PM
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WITH people's increasing longevity, the main challenges will be to reduce the risks of diseases of the elderly, namely, heart disease, stroke, cancer and dementia. In addition to controlling the main risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol levels and smoking, we can further maintain our health by not exposing ourselves to the risks that will be detrimental to our health. Interestingly, the very diagnostic tests and procedures that can save our lives may have the potential to increase our risks of stroke, cancer and dementia.

Invasive diagnostic angiograms

The first group of tests called angiograms are diagnostic procedures that involve the insertion of a plastic tube and the injection of contrast agents into the arteries of the heart or brain under X-ray guidance; these tests carry both an increase in the risk of stroke and increased exposure to X-ray radiation. Safer non-invasive alternative tests have replaced most of these tests. Currently, imaging the arteries using a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or a computed tomography (CT) of the arteries can be performed non-invasively with no risk of stroke, heart attack, or bleeding. While brain angiograms have been largely replaced by non-invasive scans, invasive angiogram …

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