A diagnostic test meant to root out heart disease could actually be making some people even sicker, according to a recent study.
The study, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, looked at 11,500 people who had undergone testing involving coronary angiography in order to determine if they were suffering from heart disease. In this type of diagnostic test, “radiocontrast” dye is injected into the person’s blood vessels. This way, when looking at X- rays, the coronary arteries will stand out from the rest of the image, allowing doctors to evaluate blood flow and heart function.
However, as suspected, the dye was found to be a trigger for kidney problems in some people. According to the researchers, there was an increased risk of fatality in those patients who underwent this kind of diagnostic testing.
It was found that when injected with the dye, patients experienced increases in levels of “serum creatinine,” which indicated that kidney function was dropping. According to the study, a 25 to 50% jump in serum creatinine levels in the body subsequent to a coronary angiography was linked to a 39% greater chance of resulting death. Not good news.
Here’s a quick review of how these essential organs work in order to give you an idea of how devastating a malfunction could be in the body. The kidneys filter out waste products and excess water from your blood, allowing the clean blood to be recirculated throughout the body. The kidneys send the leftovers to the bladder to be excreted as waste. When the kidneys are not working properly, waste material can build up in the body, becoming toxic and causing many problems.
The kidneys also produce and release important hormones that help in red blood cell production, blood pressure control, and calcium maintenance. Some signs of kidney disease include increased or decreased need to urinate, muscle cramps, loss of appetite, nausea/vomiting, fatigue/drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, sensation of itchiness, swelling or numbness in your hands or feet, and/or a change in skin pigmentation (it becomes darker). When the kidneys fail, transplantation or constant dialysis is required — as mentioned, this condition could be fatal.
This study serves as a warning that doctors should monitor patients very carefully for kidney function after they receive a coronary angiography. Patients who are about to undergo this type of testing to evaluate their heart disease should be aware of the risks and should discuss the options with their family doctor and/or specialists.