Heart Patient Testimonials For HeartScore Test

The noninvasive HeartScore test from Baptist Heart and Vascular can detect heart disease before symptoms occur. Here are some heart patient stories we have received from patients whose lifestyles improved because of the HeartScore test.

Forrest City Resident Credits Test For Lifestyle Improvement

Heart patients, Elsie and Don Guthrie took the HeartScore test with BaptistFor years, Elsie Guthrie worried about her husband’s unhealthy lifestyle.

Don Guthrie, 58, had smoked for decades and loved to eat red meat, fried foods and cheese dip. His father had his first heart attack at 48 and died of a heart attack at age 62. Several other family members were victims of heart disease, as well.

Still, he was taking steps to improve his health. He suffered from high cholesterol, but lowered his average level to 200 after improving his diet. He further lowered it by taking a cholesterol-lowering drug. He exercised some through his job as director of golf at the Forrest City Country Club.

But he and Elsie still worried. They knew about HeartScore, a test offered at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Forrest City, which can detect heart disease before symptoms occur. It is a special noninvasive CT scan of the heart that measures the amount of calcium in the coronary arteries. The amount and density of the calcium determine the calculation of a calcium score, also known as coronary calcium scoring. Recent research has shown a direct correlation between the amount of calcium in the coronary arteries and the likelihood of a future heart attack.

On Dec. 3, 2004, Elsie and Don each had a HeartScore test. Elsie had a very low calcium score, but Don’s was quite high. Coincidentally, his friend Tom Bailey, the director of radiology at Baptist Forrest City, read the results. He expressed his concern and called Don’s doctor. Soon afterward, Don saw a cardiologist and underwent a thallium test, which found some scarring on his heart. A cardiac catheterization test showed minor blockage in one artery.

Luckily, doctors think the blockage can be treated with a change of lifestyle and possibly medication. Don, who has smoked since his teens, is going to quit smoking, reduce his alcohol intake and start walking in the mornings.

He has the HeartScore test to thank for improving his lifestyle, and he encourages others to have one. The test itself only takes about 10 minutes, and you don’t even have to undress. There are no needles or anything invasive.

“The people at Baptist took good care of me. The test is painless. There’s nothing to be scared of,” Don said. “It’s a very quick way to find out if you have heart disease. It’s such an easy and such an inexpensive test, a person would be silly not to take it.”

If he had not had the Heart Score test, Don believes there is a good chance plaque would have built up in his arteries. He ran the risk of either having bypass surgery or dying from a heart attack later in life.

“I think now I have eliminated both potential problems,” Don said.

Sometimes heart attacks happen when there were no previous symptoms and 50 percent of men and 64 percent of women who died suddenly from heart disease had no previous symptoms, according to the American Heart Association.

You don’t need a referral from your doctor, although you must provide the name of a physician who can receive your test results. The test is appropriate for men and women, ages 40 to 70, with certain risk factors – family history of heart disease, smoking, high cholesterol, sedentary lifestyle, overweight, high blood pressure, high stress levels and diabetes. For more information, please call (870) 261-0219.

Air Force Retiree Avoids Heart Damage Thanks To Screening Test

Jim Johnston wasn’t concerned about his health. Getting tested was his wife Cindy’s idea.

“I felt fine,” he said. “There were no indications that anything was wrong. She was just worried.”

A head nurse at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Memphis, Cindy thought it would be a good idea for him to get tested. Retired from the Air Force, Jim was a former heavy smoker with mild hypertension and a family history of heart disease. So when Cindy was approached at work on June 27, 2002, about helping with technician training on a new test – HeartScore – she jumped at the opportunity.

“I asked if it would be OK if I let my husband get tested in my place,” she said. “I’m really glad that I did.”

She called her husband who was at home cleaning up the garage and had no interest in coming to Baptist for a test. Although he didn’t really see the need, upon Cindy’s insistence, he relented. “They ran me through and I got up,” Jim said, describing the HeartScore test. It is a special noninvasive CT scan of the heart that measures the amount of calcium in the coronary arteries. The amount and density of the calcium determine the calculation of a calcium score, also known as coronary calcium scoring.

“The test took about 15 minutes, and I didn’t even stay for the results. They gave her the results later that day.”

When the technicians came into her office and shut the door, Cindy said she immediately knew something was wrong. With a score of more than 1,200, Jim’s test was triple the amount it was supposed to be. There was a problem.

“I was only moderately interested in my test score,” Jim said. “I still didn’t think anything was wrong with me. I felt fine.”

Jim was more concerned with an upcoming out-of-town trip than his HeartScore results. In fact, he didn’t think anything of the test until he got back home and his wife wanted him to do something about it. After discussing the test results with a doctor, they decided on a cardiac catheterization. He had the procedure on July 11, 2002.

“Again, to humor my wife, I had the test done,” he added.

The cardiac cath showed blockage in four arteries, one of which was ulcerated with 90 percent blockage. At this point, bypass surgery was necessary.

“Had he not gotten the scoring done, I could have been sleeping with a bomb,” Cindy said. “ I was very blessed to be offered a chance to get the HeartScore.”

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