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Sunday, May 9, 2021

Fifteen Years To A Heart Attack

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Jack Hocutt
Dr. Hocutt is a Family and Sports Medicine physician in north Wilmington, Delaware. He is the former Head Team Physician of the US Olympic Luge team for 8 years and has been the team physician for several high schools in the area. He founded Kids v Cancer and ran the charity benefit for 6 years involving over 600 kids each year along with countless adults making significant contributions to Coaches v Cancer.

Anyone out there interested in getting a 15 year lead time on when you might have your very own heart attack?

Well, you sure can.

The  University of Pennsylvania Heart Club Cam folks have just the test for you. It takes 2 painless minutes (not counting the paperwork) and can tell you how much calcified cholesterol you have deposited in the walls of your coronary (or heart) blood vessels. That information tells you how close you are to having a heart attack or even a stroke.

If you have no calcified cholesterol deposits, that’s great. You want a ZERO on this test. That means your arteries are pretty clean and even if your cholesterol is a little high, you can let up some treating your cholesterol.

But what if your score is high? That’s important to know and the American College of Cardiology has information to show you how to REVERSE or clean out your arteries so you are less likely to get that heart attack. Don’t worry; we family physicians also know how to help you reverse the process.

How do you get this test?

For now, you have to be willing to go into Philadelphia, to Presbyterian Hospital, an affiliate of the University of Pennsylvania. At this time, Delaware doesn’t have a non-invasive heart scan like this.

One problem though, HMO’s do not like to pay for this test. I think they are way behind the times on this issue, but this test is well worth the $300 it costs. Most high speed CAT scans would cost much more, but this one is extremely reasonable and it could save your life. Many of my patients believe it has saved theirs!

In many cases this information the heart scan gives you is far better than a stress test and a cardiac cath. For a stress test to be positive, you normally must have a large blockage inside the coronary arteries. That is very late disease and very late information.

For a cardiac cath to be positive, you have to already have plaque inside the artery. That is also relatively late disease and it usually doesn’t tell you anything’s wrong until after 15 years of blood vessel hardening. The heart scan uncovers what’s going on in a very accurate fashion often for 15 years before these two tests might begin to show a problem.

So, if you’re 40 years old and up and especially if your family has a history of heart disease, you bet it’s worth it. If your family has a really high risk for heart disease, it may be prudent to start even sooner. Check with your Family Physician or Cardiologist.

Heart Cam’s phone number is 215-662-8701.

This is Dr. J Hocutt for Town Square Delaware Health Alerts. Write to me at AskDrHocutt@TownSquareDelaware.com.

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Latest News

As COVID cases, hospitalizations, deaths decline, state stops vaccine waiting list

State health officials said vaccines are so widely available now that its own system is no longer needed.

Body camera training underway in Wilmington as new bill calls for statewide policy

The bill would require all law enforcement and some correction and other officers to wear a body camera

Republicans announce legislation to review voting roll laws, require photo IDs for voting

One measure would require all voters to show photo IDs when they vote or seek an absentee ballot.
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