Heart and Vascular health is something no one should take for granted. If you wait for symptoms to show, it might already be too late.
Heart disease runs in Chris Paddock's family, it's one of the main reasons he's getting checked out at Planet Heart.
"We're trying to find heart disease before there's symptoms some families may have a strong history of heart disease and as we age it's something that we should all think about that it could happen to us." Said Beth Weber, director of imaging at the Avera Heart Hospital.
Planet Heart starts with a vascular screening to check for blood flow in Chris' carotid arteries and making sure his aorta is clear as well.
"It's a great tool they took a little finger stick for blood tests but it didn't hurt this was a great way to find out if you have other problems without being real invasive." Said Paddock.
After the screening, Chris is taken up stairs for a CT scan. This scan looks inside the heart and blood vessels looking for calcium build ups. Calcium in the heart and arteries is an indicator of atherosclerosis or narrowing of the arteries. After the scan, patients get a calcium score. The higher the calcium score, the higher the risk of heart attack.
"They come in and have it done and they find out that they do have things that they should be paying more closer attention to like their blood pressure is up or they have a little bit of plaque starting in the coronary vessels." Said Weber.
Chris' scan came back with a score of 62.2. Ideally he'd like a zero but that score is not a death sentence.
"If you know about it and it can be treated that's the big thing I've always heard this person having a problem and I didn't know it so they couldn't do anything about it." Said Paddock.
And what's the best way to correct a poor calcium score?
"Certainly diet is a huge factor in controlling risk of cardiovascular disease." Said Mary Beth Russell, a registered dietitian at the Avera Heart Hospital.
Planet Heart checks are offered at several Avera Hospitals in the region, but the Heart Hospital is the only one that offers extra coaching from dietitians. It's just another tool to help patients succeed.
"We do a consult with them over the phone that goes through some of those risk factors and then we look at there what they're currently eating and give them a little advice on what to change to improve those risk factors." Said Russell.
For both the heart and vascular screenings it's just 75$. Knowing is half the battle and the knowledge gained is more than worth it.
"It can be the eye-opener or the first step of lifestyle changes." Said Weber.
If someone needs a little extra motivation, families can also buy a gift card, like Chris' wife did.
"Well you know the wife wants to make sure that you're in good health and that sort of thing so I had to solve that concern." Said Paddock.
And as every husband knows, a happy wife means a happy life, which thanks to Planet Heart just got healthier.
Planet heart is recommended for men 40 years and older, for women it's 45 years and up. the screenings are not covered by insurance but the benefits definitely outweigh the cost. For more information call 877-AT-AVERA or click here.