A test that could save your life

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Vicky Cooke, ANP, cardio vascular specialist, adult nurse practitioner with CHI Memorial Family Practice Associates – Northgate


If there was a test that could help you avoid a heart attack, would you take it?

A coronary calcium scan takes pictures of your heart with CT technology, looking for the plaque (made partially of fat and calcium) in your heart’s arteries. Plaque isn’t good for your heart, and this test is valuable because of how it can detect heart disease that an EKG or a stress test might not detect. It’s also an inexpensive, noninvasive test that offers information your healthcare provider can use to help you manage your risk for a heart attack.

Although insurance does not pay for the coronary calcium screening, it is an inexpensive test that has the potential to change lives in a dramatic way. I’ve seen how this information can motive patients to take better care of themselves and their health once they have seen the concrete evidence that the calcium scoring test provides. It can offer a great assessment of an individual’s risk of heart attack in patients without cardiac symptoms.

What’s more, the test can also bring peace of mind for individuals who have a strong family history of heart disease or are concerned about side effects of cholesterol lowering medication but who’s test results show no evidence of the disease. Coronary calcium scoring is a screening option for people who have at least one of the key risk factors for heart disease – like high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes or a family history of heart disease.

I believe this test is one of the best investments people can make in their heart health, and I highly recommend it to patients who meet the criteria. It provides useful information we can use to determine if you’re doing enough to control your heart disease risk or if we need to be more aggressive in our management of this potentially deadly disease.

CHI Memorial offers coronary calcium scoring for $59 and requires a physician order. To schedule, call (423) 495-2130. To schedule an appointment with Vicky Cooke, ANP, call (423) 870-1999.

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Karen Long
Media Communications Specialist 
e: karen_long@memorial.org

Doctor Talk, CHI Memorial's blog, focuses on health and welness.