Gary's Story

How a sale on heart scan CT testing turned out to be a ‘lifesaver’

Patient Stories
Gary Des Lauriers

Are you a person who likes to shop sales? Gary Des Lauriers found one that may have saved his life.

During heart month, Rush Copley offers a special promotion for the Heart Score CT Scan for $69, instead of the usual $99. The scan is a quick and painless way to discover potential heart problems, since up to 35% of people who suffer heart attacks have no previous symptoms. No referral is needed for those aged 40 or older.

Des Lauriers decided to take advantage of the “sale” and had the scan performed. “I’m not the healthiest person in the world,” Des Lauriers said. “I went and had it done to establish a baseline.”

Detecting Problems Before Symptoms Occur

Advanced, multidetector CT scanning technology is used to generate a detailed 3-D image of the heart that helps doctors detect plaque build-up before symptoms occur. The scan can reveal several kinds of heart abnormalities, including plaque build-up in the coronary arteries (which helps determine risk for heart disease), congenital heart disease (problems present at birth, which can cause health issues for adults, if untreated), heart valve defects and diseases, blockages in the arteries that supply the heart, tumors or masses in the heart and problems with the heart’s ability to pump.

The test is recommended for individuals between the ages of 40 and 75 who have not previously been diagnosed with heart disease but have at least two of the following risk factors: diabetes, family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, physical inactivity or smoking. The scan itself takes less than one minute, but the appointment is 30 minutes long to include time for check-in and questionnaire completion. The image is obtained in a single breath hold while the patient relaxes on the CT table. No special prep, exercise or injections are required.

Test Takes Minutes

The test took less than five minutes, Des Lauriers said, but an hour later, he received a call from the center instructing him to take the results to his cardiologist “pronto.”

Ideally, the score should be zero, according to Des Lauriers’ cardiologist at Rush Copley, Santosh Gill, MD, FACC, RPVA. This number increases as plaque builds up. Des Lauriers’ score was 7,000. “His very high score, along with some symptoms, led directly to cardiac catheterization,” Dr. Gill said.

Additional testing showed that Des Lauriers had a blockage of about 90% in one artery, and he needed a stent to open the blockage. He said he was in the category of 20% most likely to have a heart attack.

Indicates Potential Problems

“Coronary calcium score should always be interpreted in context of the overall patient risk and incorporated with other known risk factors of heart disease like high blood pressure and high cholesterol,” Dr. Gill said. “Those at low to intermediate risk of heart disease benefit most from this test, as the test results can further clarify their level of risk and need for additional treatments or tests.”

Des Lauriers had the stent placed and has since completed 12 weeks of workouts in Rush Copley’s cardiac rehabilitation center. Under the guidance of specially trained nurses and staff, he used the latest fitness equipment to help rebuild strength and confidence and has learned how to maintain a healthy lifestyle through diet as well.

‘Well Worth the Price’

Had he not take advantage of the special pricing on this test, Des Lauriers says he would likely would had suffered a heart attack. He strongly encourages others to take the test.

“Go do it,” he says. “It’s well worth the price. It was a lifesaver for me.”

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