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5 “Lifesaving” Tests

There seems to be a lot of tests that doctors want you to take, but which ones are really important to your health, and which ones may not be completely necessary.  A seminal study by the Rand Corporation found that patients who had the most screenings over 5 years were no healthier than those given less medical attention. Here are 5 from Men's Health that could be lifesavers.

1. Cardiac CT Angiography - 3-D images allow radiologists to give you your heart artery calcium score, which measures the amount of plaque in your arteries. A 2007 study with 10,000 people showed that calcium scores alone were good predictors of heart attacks. However, this test does give you ALOT of radiation. By a lot, we mean this one test is the equivalent of 600 chest x-rays according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.  This test ranges from $350 t0 $900 and is great for people who have a history of heart problems or have had abnormal results in the past.

2. Bone Density Scan - Bone mass decreases in both men and women, starting around the age of 30. "DEXA scans allow us to identify people at high risk for fracture so they can start treatment to strengthen their bones before a fracture occurs," says Murray J. Favus, M. D., director of the bone program at the University of Chicago medical center. The cost of this test ranges from $250 to $300 and can be covered by insurance. People with possible stress fractures and osteoporosis may want to take this test.

3. VO2 Max Test - By analyzing the amount of oxygen you consume, the test determines how efficiently your body extracts and uses oxygen from the air. This can help determine the your overall health and can be a slight indicator for heart attacks and high cholesterol. This test costs $110 to $160 and isn't normally covered by insurance, but everyone should take it.

4. Virtual Colonoscopy - We know many dread the colonoscopy, but they have a virtual one! While not quite as effective, you can avoid sedation and the chance of a perforated colon. "Virtual colonoscopies have the same sensitivity for detecting large polyps, which are the precursor lesions of colon cancer," says Judy Yee, M. D., a professor of radiology at the University of California at San Francisco. This test costs $500 to $1,000 and may be covered by insurance. Those over the age of 50 or on blood thinners should consider taking this test.

5. Nutritional Evaluation - This isn't a test, but it does but your diet and exercise under the microscope. n a 2008 Kaiser Permanente study, diabetic patients who received nutritional counseling were nearly twice as likely to lose weight as those who had no guidance. It is important to change your diet and exercise as you age or receive new information about your health. The cost of meeting with a registered nutritionist ranges from $40 to $75 a session and is important for everyone!

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