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Early detection tests in Germany: Heart and vessels

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Heart disease patients and those suspected of having heart disease often face a battery of heart and vessel tests. Find out which tests you should expect in Germany if one of these noninvasive heart tests is in your future.

As an Expat in Germany, you will benefit from great medical care. If you happen to have heart issues or are suspected of having a heart condition, your doctor may order an array of heart and vessel tests. But what’s their purpose and what should you expect?

Doppler sonography of the large vessels of the head, neck, abdomen and legs

heart

Who / When

Men and women from 30 years of age with complaints

Examination

With Doppler sonography, the doctor can show the direction and speed of the blood flow in the neck and leg vessels, in the heart, the large body and kidney vessels and quickly identify constrictions or obstructions.

Is it useful?  

The examination is particularly useful after a stroke or for high-risk patients, i.e. people whose families have already had strokes or other heart attacks.

What are the costs?

The statutory health insurance does not routinely pay for the Doppler sonography. If there are complaints or there is a reasonable suspicion of vascular stenosis, she will pay the costs. For early detection, it is an IGeL” service (self-payer service) and costs between 27 and 94 euros, depending on the type of vessel.

“IGeL” or “self-payer services”

Individual health services (IGeL) are medical, dental and psychotherapeutic services that patients generally have to pay for themselves because they are not part of the scope of benefits provided by statutory health insurance. In the jungle of IGeL offers, it is difficult for patients to find their way around.

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Ultrasound examination of the heart (echocardiography)

heart

Who / When

Men and women of all ages with complaints

Examination

During the echocardiography examination, a transducer sends sound waves that are changed by the tissue of the heart and received by the transducer and converted into an electronic image. The ultrasound is performed from the outside through the anterior chest or from the inside, then the transducer is pushed through the esophagus.

Is it useful? 

Echocardiography is routine in the diagnosis of heart disease and is suitable for clarifying suspected heart defects or disorders of the heart function. It does not make sense as a routine preventative measure for people without symptoms.

What are the costs?

The statutory health insurance companies do not routinely pay for echocardiography. If there are complaints or there is a reasonable suspicion of cardiac dysfunction, she will pay the costs. For early detection, it is an IGeL service and costs between 27 and 94 euros.

MRI of the heart (magnetic resonance imaging)

heart

Who / When

Men and women with complaints

Examination

The doctor uses an MRI to check how the heart works, how the heart valves work, how the heart muscle is made up and supplied with blood.

Is it useful?

An MRI is useful to assess the function of heart problems or to rule out heart muscle inflammation, for example. It also serves as a virtual alternative to conventional coronary angiography. The MRI is not suitable as a routine preventive examination.

What are the costs?

For healthy people, this examination is an IGeL service and costs around 450 euros. If there is reasonable suspicion of a heart problem, the health insurance company will cover the costs.

Ultrasound examination of the abdominal aorta

heart

Who / When

One-time for men aged 65 and over

Examination

The abdominal aorta is a central blood-carrying vessel in the body. If it tears, there is a risk to life and many patients do not reach the hospital on time. Usually protuberances form first, the aneurysms, at which the vessel then tears. Since 2018 there has been a one-off screening for men (who are particularly often affected) from the age of 65. 

The doctor uses ultrasound to measure the aorta at the point with the largest diameter below the point where the kidney vessels branch off. If the diameter at this point is greater than 2.5 centimeters, it is considered noticeable. An aneurysm is present from three centimeters.

Is it useul?

An abdominal aortic aneurysm can be extremely dangerous and symptoms are barely noticeable for those affected. If so, they are often not clear – stomach or back pain or a feeling of pressure. The screening by ultrasound is uncomplicated and radiation-free, i.e. a meaningful examination without great effort or risks for the patient.

What are the costs?

Since 2018, the health insurers have been taking on the one-time screening for men aged 65 and over.

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Expaturm aims to help educate Expats in Germany on key issues that they will have to deal with while living in Germany by providing everything you need to know about Banking, Healthcare, Lifestyle, and Housing in Germany
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