Heart month: Simple tests that save lives

quick tip mercyMany of us think about hearts and flowers when February rolls around, but we ignore the most important hearts — the one beating inside us and the hearts beating inside the chests of the people we love.

Doctors and nurses often hear people say, “I don’t have heart disease and I’ve never had chest pain. Why do I need these tests?”

Here’s why: Many times the first symptom of heart disease is a heart attack or sudden death. (Let that sink in a for a minute.)

There are often NO symptoms, or sometimes there are symptoms but they’re so mild that people write them off as being caused by other things (heartburn, fatigue, etc.)

If you truly love your heart (and your husband’s heart, your parents’ hearts, etc.), get it tested to make sure it’s healthy.

This month and throughout the year, Mercy offers two simple tests that help gauge where a patient (who has no symptoms) falls on the scale for having (or for developing) coronary artery disease, also referred to as CAD.

To know where you are on the scale, you need to have a baseline reading on these two heart tests:

1) Vascular Screen

2) Coronary Calcium Score

The Vascular Screen test includes a screening of the carotid artery and the aorta (using ultrasound). It also includes an “ankle-brachial index” which is done by taking your blood pressure in both legs.

The cost of this Vascular Screening is $100 and it’s done in the Mercy Cardiovascular Clinic in Rogers. (You can schedule it by calling Christine Friemoth at 479-338-3888.)

The Coronary Calcium Score (which is a hospital CT scan of your coronary arteries) costs $50 and can be scheduled through Mercy Central Scheduling at 479-338-2911.

We hope you’ll use heart month to set up these screening tests for yourself and the people you love. Happy February!