Echocardiographic screening for structural and valvular heart disease in the general population does not reduce mortality, according to a JAMA Internal Medicine study. The finding, the authors say, “supports existing guidelines that echocardiography is not recommended … in asymptomatic adults.”
In a population-based study, nearly 7000 middle-aged adults in Norway were randomized to screening echocardiography or usual care. About 9% of the screening group had abnormal echo results that required additional testing.
During 15 years’ follow-up, the primary endpoint — all-cause mortality — did not differ significantly between the groups. Secondary outcomes, including sudden death, death from heart disease, and myocardial infarction, also did not differ.
In a subgroup of participants with a family history of early MI, screening appeared to reduce all-cause mortality (number needed to screen to prevent 1 death, 21) — a novel finding that the authors say warrants confirmation.