Last month, we warned you about young folks receiving far too much radiation from various scans and X-rays to diagnose concussions, sprains and broken bones which could increase their risk of fighting cancer as adults. These imaging procedures may also be responsible for elevating the cancer risks of heart attack patients whose health is already compromised.
Scientists reviewed data collected over a decade on some 83,000 heart attack patients living in the Canadian province of Quebec with no history of cancer. Surprisingly, 77 percent of those patients were exposed to at least one low-dose radiation scan (nuclear scan or CT angiography) within 12 months of their heart attacks.
During the follow-up phase, 14.5 percent (more than 12,000 patients) had been diagnosed with cancer, with two-thirds of those cases affecting the chest, abdomen or pelvic areas. Another sobering factoid: Patients treated by a cardiologist were far more likely to receive greater levels of radiation exposure than those who saw a general practitioner.
These results prompted researchers to suggest better documentation of imaging tests and doctors paying far more attention to estimating a patient's cumulative exposure to low-dose radiation scans. It may not be a bad idea for you to keep better track of your health too, and ask questions whenever you feel the need to do so, especially if you have a tough time communicating with your doctor.
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Canadian Medical Association Journal February 7, 2011 Free Full Text PDF
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