A quick check in the mirror and you know instantly if something is off with your appearance, but that doesn't work with your ticker. There is only one way to find out if you are at risk for heart disease: get tested. We met up with one Sioux Falls woman who went through the Planet Heart screening this summer at the Avera Heart Hospital and has changed her ways because of it.
Joan Norquist is enjoying the fruits of her labor from her patio garden more than ever this summer, mostly because she learned for the sake of her heart's health, she has to. Joan went through Planet Heart, a cardiovascular risk reduction clinic, in July and discovered she has coronary artery disease.
Joan says, "It's a wake up call that's for sure. Why not find out now prior to it being too late especially if your family has a history of heart disease and my family did. Both my parents died from heart disease so I thought, I better get in there and find out what's going on."
For $50 a team of specialists at the Avera Heart Hospital check your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and get your calcium score through a cat scan. That number tells cardiologists if atherosclerosis is present in the arteries. That means a fatty material collects on the walls of the arteries, thickens, hardens and may eventually block the arteries. If it is, by definition you have coronary artery disease.
Cardiologist Dr. Mark Gordon with North Central Heart says, "It's helpful in determining what patients are at risk for future coronary events like heart attack, stroke, sudden cardiac death. Your calcium score should be zero, so it's a tool that helps determine how aggressive we have to be in modifying your risk factors. People who smoke, have hypertension, diabetic or have a family history of heart disease are at higher risk."
Joan says, "I was quite surprised. I would have known that I had calcium deposits in my arteries if I hadn't gotten the test done and it's a wonderful test for $50. It's the best deal out there. If you take it and find out nothings wrong well then great! But if there is, then it's a heads up to make some changes in your life before it's too late."
Joan knows that in addition to routine exercise, by slicing in to more fruits, vegetables and fish, and cutting back on red meat and saturated fat she is improving her chances of living a very long life on planet earth thanks to Planet Heart.
Joan Norquist will go back for a follow up check at planet heart in a year which means next July to see how she did at lowering her risk factors.
In its first year, the Avera Call Center registered almost 4500 people for Planet Heart at the Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls and the Avera facilities in Yankton and Marshall.
To make an appointment call 877-AT-AVERA.