Detecting heart disease before it's too late

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - 2,500 Americans die from heart disease each day. If you have a family history of this condition, you're at an increased risk for developing it. In this Healthcast, we hear from one Hackberry woman who chose not to take any chances on letting heart disease go undetected.

As the youngest of ten children, Teresa Nunez began seeing health issues plague her family years before she had her first scare.  "There is high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes in my family," says Teresa.

Dr. Michael Turner with Cardiovascular Specialists of Southwest Louisiana says because of Teresa's strong family history of heart disease, she was at a greater risk for having it herself.  "Her father had a bypass at 50, her sister had a stent in her 30's and a brother who had heart disease diagnosed in his 50's," says Dr. Turner.

When Teresa began feeling chest pains last fall, she knew she needed to have it checked out.  "Everybody's nervous about it," says Teresa, "you don't know the problem because you can't read the inside of your body."

Through cardiac computed tomography, Dr. Turner can look at a 3-D image of Teresa's heart.  "We have a lot of tests in medicine that tell us when heart disease is present and we use those tests to tell us to treat heart disease," says Dr. Turner, "but there is no test in medicine that is as good as cardiac CT in telling us if people do not have heart disease."

Although Teresa's treadmill test came back negative, with her chest pain and risk factors for a cardiac episode, Dr. Turner had her undergo the cardiac CT scan before she was given a clean bill of health.  "It was for my peace of mind to make sure that everything's okay with my heart," says Teresa.

"A negative cardiac CT scan means that a person doesn't have heart disease 99 percent of the time," says Dr. Turner.  And for Teresa, the news was good.  "Looking at the actual image of the coronary artery that takes blood to Teresa's heart muscle," says Dr. Turner, "there's no calcium or plaque formation in this artery."

With that information, Teresa has put the worrying behind her and is now able to focus on making her future as healthy as possible.

*Early detection is the key to prevention.  if you want to learn more about risk factors for heart disease and the latest in screening technology, join Dr. Turner next Thursday, May 28th at 6:00 P.M. for a free seminar in Garber auditorium at 430 Dr. Michael DeBakey Drive in Lake Charles.  Reserve your seat by calling 491-7577.

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