Special Assignment: Closer to Your Heart

News 12 at 6 o'clock, February 14, 2008

Right now, you could have heart disease and not know it.

You look fine.
You feel fine.
You might not be fine, though.

In fact, your first warning could be a heart attack.
This sounds scary, t a local hospital now has a new tool to help you.
Doctors at University Hospital can now look at your heart in ways they've never been able to see it before.

Teresa Waters is a big fan of the 64 Slice.
As Director of Cardiovascular Services at University, she has seen what the machine, and the images it produces, can do for patients.

She's been working in cardio for 25 years, and since she started, she's watched more and more patients get diagnosed with heart disease.
She's also seen more and more patients who didn't know they had heart problems until it was too late.

Dr. Ward Rogers runs the noninvasive lab at University, so he works closely with Teresa and the 64 Slice.

"This can detect coronary disease, or hardening of the arteries of the heart, at an earlier stage than essentially any other technology we have available," says Dr. Rogers.

It can actually show doctors your arteries and what's inside them, which Dr. Rogers says is so important because "you can't tell by listening to their heart; you can't tell by looking at them; you can't tell by looking at an E.K.G."

However, you can tell with the images from the 64 Slice.

Dr. Rogers suggested I give it a try.

The whole process takes around 5 minutes, and it's very simple.
You lay down on a "table," and after getting fitted with a heart monitor to make sure your heart remains calm, the "table" takes you through what looks like a large dough nut.
You take a series of deep breaths while the machine does the work for you.
You just need to stay as still as possible, like when when you get an X-Ray.

Doctors at University say a reason they're so excited about the 64 Slice is that it costs patients in the low hundreds.
The next best way to get this information costs thousands and is invasive, so there is some risk to the patient.

Dr. Rogers wanted to test me because I have no symptoms.
I'm also young, but certainly not too young to have heart disease.
I work in a stressful job, and I hate to admit it, but I don't have the best diet.
You get the idea.
I could be at risk.
According to my results, though, I have nothing to worry about.

Dr. Rogers wasn't able to find any calcium in my arteries, which is wonderful news.

Teresa wasn't so lucky.
That's right.
The Director of Cardio had calcium in her arteries and didn't even know it, until she got in the machine.

Looking at Teresa, you'd never know.
She's young and slim, but she says "You can't tell on the outside, you know. It's the genes that you're delt with, it's also eating habits and exercise."

In her case, family history was silently working against her.
Now, she has a chance to stop history from repeating itself.
"I got much more aggressive with my diet. I am also exercising three days a week, " says Waters.

So, Teresa isn't just saving your life anymore.
She's saving her own.


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