“A short news story about a new heart test saved my life”

Life-Saving and Life-Changing Stories from Chest CT Scans




Heart Case Studies


*All patient names are fictitious.


**Some stories have been compiled from several case studies and publications.


Makayla was only 54, but already had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a family history full of heart disease. When she heard about the HeartLung.AI scan, she made an appointment. Results showed blockage in two heart blood vessels. Now she’s getting proper treatment that will lead to a healthy lifestyle and positive outcomes.


Makayla* was only 54 when she happened to see a short segment on a morning television news show about a new kind of heart screening test. A doctor was explaining that a common low-dose CT chest scan could determine if the vessels that bring blood and oxygen to the heart were blocked.


The test, called a Coronary Artery Calcium (CAC), scan provides a score to help determine a person’s risk of having a heart attack, or a stroke. The CT scan can tell which vessels are blocked, how much obstruction is present, and where the blockage is.




A CT scan takes multiple images, called slices, that can be reconfigured to make a 3D image. It provides more accurate detail than a traditional X-ray.(1) A heart CT measures how much plaque (the build-up of fat) and calcium is lining the walls of the heart vessels. When plaque and calcium are present, they indicate atherosclerosis, which is also called coronary artery disease. Depending on how much the CT finds, a score of 0-400+ is assigned.


The doctor went on the say that getting a CAC score is useful for adults with a higher risk of developing heart disease. Along with “looking at” the heart, the chest scan also evaluates the lungs, bone density, the liver, and abdominal fat. Using the latest Artificial Intelligence technology, the results of the scan are instantly analyzed and compared to thousands of other results in a data bank.




Makayla grabbed a pen to write down the information. As a black woman, she knew she had risks. She was already being treated for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. And her family had a long history of heart disease. Her grandmother had died after suffering multiple strokes. Her mother and aunt had died in their early 70s from complications of coronary artery disease. Even her father, now almost 80, had needed open-heart surgery and currently had congestive heart failure (CHF). Besides high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a family history, other risk factors for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke include:(2)


  • Diabetes

  • Smoking

  • Overweight or obese

  • Physical inactivity

  • Poor diet

  • Excess alcohol

  • Older age

  • Gender and race


Makayla knew she was “the perfect candidate” for the chest CT scan. A quick internet search led her to a nearby testing location and she made an appointment. There are no special instructions for having a CAC scan, except to avoid caffeine for 4-12 hours before the test. After checking in, the CT scan takes about 10-15 minutes. Makayla was able to remain in her street clothes for the entire procedure, only removing her eyeglasses and metal jewelry.(1)




Her CAC score showed that Rachel did have some blockage in two of the heart blood vessels. Her primary care physician referred her to a cardiologist, who explained the scan and which vessels were affected. The cardiologist congratulated her on taking the initiative to get the low-dose chest CT scan. “Having knowledge at your age means you can get the kind of care that will make a difference…you can get more positive outcomes and a better quality of life.”(3) He also noted that the rest of the scan results were normal.




Now they could work together to keep her atherosclerosis in check and prevent further damage. The cardiologist changed her blood pressure and cholesterol medications. He recommended a heart-healthy Mediterranean Diet, along with exercise and an active lifestyle. He noted that her new regime “…has the real potential to reduce her risk of heart disease by 80% in her lifetime.”(3)


REFERENCES

  1. Cardiac CT for Calcium Scoring. RadiologyInfo.org. Sponsored by the Radiological Society of North America and the American College of Radiology. https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info/ct_calscoring (Accessed on 2 October 2021)

  2. Know your risk for heart disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/risk_factors.htm (Accessed 2 October 2021)

  3. Katherine’s Story: Heart CT Scan Was “An Eye-Opener.” Premier Health, Dayton Ohio.

  4. https://www.premierhealth.com/services/cardiology-and-vascular-services/patient-stories/katherine%27s-story (Accessed 1 October 2021)

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