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Detect heart disease early— before you have symptoms Oct 6, 2012

Patient Name: Elisabeth G., Medford
Care Provided: Cardiology

Elisabeth G., of Medford, decided to have a cardiac calcium scoring exam at Memorial Health Center (Medford) because she knows she’s at risk for cardiovascular disease. Her mom had a stroke at 58 years old. Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the U.S. Still, most people don’t realize they’re at risk until a heart attack or stroke strikes. “I’m getting older, and I wanted to know where I stand as far as plaque buildup,” she says. “I didn’t want to be caught unaware.”

How does it work?
Cardiac calcium scoring is a special x-ray test that uses a CT scanner to check for plaque buildup in the heart. This test can pick up early stages of heart disease before you have any obvious symptoms and warn you if you’re at risk for a heart attack. It’s a quick, painless, self-referred procedure—meaning patients don’t need a doctor’s referral to request a screening at Memorial Health Center. You don’t have to worry about tight, closed-in spaces either; the CT scanner is very open. “You just lie on a table while hooked up to sensors,” Elisabeth says. “The CT table moves forward and back through the scanner. It’s all very quick.” From start to finish, the screening takes less than 30 minutes. It requires no needles, cutting or sedation. “You’re told what to expect beforehand, and the CT staff talks with you and makes you comfortable,” Elisabeth says. “My exam went well. I received my results within the week.”

‘I’m glad I decided to have the test. There’s no sense waiting until something bad happens to learn something’s not right.’ —Elisabeth G., of Medford

Making changes
Elisabeth learned she has some mild plaque buildup and is at a medium risk for heart disease. This means she has a 10% to 20% chance of having a heart attack in the next 10 years. She’s trying to lower her risk by making some small lifestyle changes to lower her cholesterol. “I’m trying to eat healthier,” she says. “Even though my risk level is pretty low, it’s time to start cutting back, which means eating a little less cheese and having ice cream less often.” The exam is recommended if you are older than 40 and have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including high cholesterol, smoking, hypertension, diabetes, excess weight or a family history of heart disease.

Call 715-748-7526 to schedule your cardiac calcium scoring exam at Memorial Health Center. No referral is needed.

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