My story discovering my heart disease is I think rather unusual, but could be life saving for others. I assumed that since I had no symptoms and no risk factors (known) that I didn't have to worry about heart disease. How mistaken I was!
I am slim (always have been), low cholesterol (take medications), never smoked, no diabetes and active. I was 64 years old at the time. I went on Groupon and happened across an offer for an EBCT Coronary Calcium Scan very cheap. This test basically checks for calcium deposits in your heart a leading cause of heart attacks and death. I decided to buy it for myself and my husband. I was concerned about him. His test results were fine. My results were extremely high. The letter with my results told me to contact a cardiologist ASAP.
Since I was asymptomatic and no obvious risk factors my cardiologist didn't seem very concerned. He did suggest that we test anyway. My nuclear stress test results said I had one minor blockage in one artery. Being cautious, my doctor decided to do a heart catheterization test. I was told I would either go home with medication or stay overnight if they put a stint in.
Results were that I had four blockages, 70,80,90 and 95%. The 95% blockage was in the LAD or "widow maker" so named because of the low survival rate if a patient experiences a heart attack there. I ended up having Quadruple Bypass Heart Surgery instead of going to Europe which was planned for the following week. My doctor told me that going on an airplane with my condition could be life threatening.
Just knowing the symptoms are not enough. If I hadn't had the EBCT Coronary Calcium Scan, I doubt I would have met my new grandson.
The stress test, which is a very common test used by cardiologists, gave very inaccurate results and again, I had no reason to think I would need one, nor did I know to ask for a heart catheterization test. If my doctor had not been thorough, I most probably would have had a massive heart attack.
I am hoping that my experience can help save lives.
-- Carol Rosenhaft
My doctor wrote the following:
Your piece is very accurate. I might mention that women often do not have the classic symptoms of men, or no symptoms we recognize. I think it is a great story to share. You might also mention how, in some states, insurance coverage is mandated (i.e. Texas has the heart attack prevention bill, while Georgia lacks behind for this cheap test. It has less radiation than some mammograms).