(HealthDay News) – Echocardiographic screening for heart disease in a general population of middle-aged asymptomatic individuals does not reduce the risk of death or the incidence of heart attacks and stroke, according to a study published online July 22 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Haakon Lindekleiv, MD, PhD, from the University of Tromsø in Norway, and colleagues randomly assigned 6,861 adults (mean age, 60 years) in the general Norwegian population without symptoms of heart disease to control or echocardiographic screening.

During 15 years of follow up, the researchers found that 26.9% of the screening group and 27.6% of the control group died (hazard ratio 0.97). The two groups were also similar in terms of secondary outcomes, including sudden death, mortality from heart disease, and incidence of fatal and nonfatal myocardial infarction and stroke.

“Echocardiographic screening for structural and valvular heart disease in the general population provided no benefit for mortality or for the risk of myocardial infarction or stroke,” Lindekleiv and colleagues conclude.

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