Every year, hundreds of thousands of older Americans get on a treadmill in a doctor’s office and walk or jog as an electrocardiogram monitors their heart function. But a growing number of medical authorities would like to make routine screening using the procedure, known as the treadmill or exercise stress test, largely a thing of the past.
On Monday an expert government panel, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, joined the call by recommending against routine testing with electrocardiograms, or EKGs, in people who have no known risk factors or symptoms of heart disease, like shortness of breath or chest pains.
The recommendations, published online in Annals of Internal Medicine, made the test the latest addition to an expanding list of once routine screening tools that have fallen out of favor. Earlier this year, the task force advised against regular screening with the prostate specific antigen, or P.S.A., blood test, long considered the gold standard for early detection of prostate cancer. The panel has also come out against measures like annual Pap smears for many women and regular mammograms for women in their 40s.