My Healthy Heart BlogsAdvertisementBy Mari S

My Healthy Heart BlogsAdvertisementBy Mari S

My Healthy Heart Blogs

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By Mari S. GoldPhysical examinations and collecting a thorough medical history are just as effective at identifying and assessing congestive heart failure as ordering high-tech, invasive tests. Physical examinations are also more cost-effective ways to assess congestive heart failure patients.

Patients often complain that medicine has become all tech and no touch. Now, according to a large study, taking a complete medical history and performing a thorough physical examination has been shown to still be an accurate way to assess patients with congestive heart failure.

In addition to providing a good understanding of the patient’s condition, these non-invasive practices are less costly than high-tech approaches such as imaging and measuring biomarkers.

The Evaluation Study of Congestive Heart Failure and Pulmonary Artery Catheterization Effectiveness (ESCAPE) trial was conducted at 26 sites in the United States and Canada. A history was taken and a physical examination performed on a subset of 338 patients enrolled in the study. Roughly half the subset group also underwent an invasive right-heart catheterization to measure how much fluid they had in their body.

Researchers found that the estimates of the amount of fluid from the history and physical exam compared favorably to the results of the invasive measurements. In addition, patients who gave medical histories and underwent a physical exam, and who were estimated to have extra fluid were at increased risk of dying or being hospitalized over the next six months.

The study shows that history taking and examinations, the traditional cornerstone diagnostic tools for medical care, are very likely still among the most accurate and cost-effective methods for assessing congestive heart failure patients.

Mari S. Gold is has written for The New York Times, American Profile, Relish Magazine, TravelSmart, Indianapolis Monthly, and numerous e-zines. An avid cook and foodie, she contributes restaurant reviews to Zagat Guides and The Vermont News Guide, and is working on a young adult novel with a food theme. Married with grown children and two cats, she divides her time between New York City where she is director of communications for a major health care organization, and Dorset, Vermont.

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