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A Simple Heart Test Could Save Your Life

Too often the first sign of coronary artery disease is a heart attack or death. Gunnison Valley Health has introduced a simple and effective heart attack prevention test to help detect heart disease in its early stages before symptoms occur.

Gunnison Valley Health’s Director of Imaging and Cardiopulmonary, Brett Bruce, said the coronary calcium scoring test identifies the amount of calcium built up in the walls of the coronary arteries that feed into the heart.

“It’s a simple, noninvasive ten minute heart CT scan that requires no patient preparation, needles or recovery time,” said Mr. Bruce. “At the end of the scan, the patient will be provided with a score, based on the level of calcium in their coronary arteries, that identifies their risk of a heart attack,” he said.

“We are fortunate that our community is very active, although you cannot ignore genetics,” Bruce warned. “By catching heart disease early before the symptoms occur, preventative measures can be taken to avoid a heart attack and preventable death.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the most deadly disease in America claiming more than a half-million lives annually. As the only hospital in Colorado to participate in the National Heart Health Program, which is the most widely successful early coronary artery disease detection program developed by leading cardiologists, Gunnison Valley Health is taking active steps to prevent heart attacks in this community.

The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommends heart scans to men aged between 45 to 80 years and women over 50 years who have one or more risk factors for heart disease including a family or personal history of coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, or tobacco use. This test will not benefit those people who are low risk or high risk with known coronary artery disease.

Gunnison Valley’s local Cardiovascular Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Lipid Specialist, Judith Collins, said the coronary calcium score is a very helpful predictor of cardiac disease in addition to cholesterol screenings and risk factor assessments.

“A heart scan for coronary calcium allows providers to look at the arteries of the heart from outside the body and identifies if cholesterol laden plaques are present,” said Ms. Collins.

Collins also stated the results of a heart scan should not be used in isolation as the single predictor of heart disease and is best used when combined with other health information.

“When a patient sees calcium in their own coronary arteries, they are more likely to be motivated to change their lifestyle,” she said. “Bringing awareness about cardiac disease to our community ensures preventative measures can be put in place now rather than waiting until a heart attack occurs.”

The coronary calcium scoring or heart attack prevention scan is an affordable test at only $149. The test does not require a doctor’s order although, please consult your provider for more information. To make an appointment contact Gunnison Valley Health at (970) 641-7253 or visit Heart Attack Prevention Test.