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One simple screen could save your life

The Heart Screen at Sanford Health

By: Maria Stys, MD, cardiologist and director of the Women’s Heart Program at Sanford Heart Hospital

Right now in this country, heart disease remains the leading cause of death for women, causing one in three women’s deaths each year. That is approximately one woman every minute! In fact, women are at higher lifetime risk of developing heart disease and stroke with 90 percent of women currently having one or more risk factors.

We can prevent this. We can stop heart disease from taking our mothers, daughters, aunts and grandmothers. Though cardiovascular diseases affect 44 million American women, heart disease is preventable 80 percent of the time. So how do we reduce heart disease deaths?

One way is with the Heart Screen at Sanford, which can help you stay a few steps ahead to protect your heart and your life. This screen can help detect any problems or risk factors in your heart in their earliest, most treatable stages.

 “Like most women, I didn’t think I was at risk for heart disease,” said Sandy Luke. “I was wrong. A heart screen from Sanford Health saved my life.  The screen showed I was in need of emergent care.  I’ll always be grateful to my team and Sanford and for my life-saving screen.”

What is the Heart Screen?

Heart screens are performed to check for early heart disease or to find out the severity of heart disease. It is recommended only once every 10 years.

Our heart screens include the following:

  • CT calcium score: Analyzes the amount of plaque in your coronary arteries
  • EKG: Records electrical impulses through your heart
  • Cholesterol (non-fasting): Measures your total cholesterol
  • Blood pressure
  • Body mass index (BMI)
  • Framingham Score: Estimates your risk of development heart disease within the next 10 years

Who should get screened?

A physician may recommend the screen if you have risk factors for heart disease, but have no symptoms. Physicians most often suggest this procedure for women ages 40 to 75, and postmenopausal. However, anyone can choose to have the test, even without knowing your risk factors or your physician’s recommendation.

Major risk factors for heart disease include:

  • Abnormally high cholesterol
  • Family history
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Being physically inactive

How is the screen done?

Small electrodes, which are connected to an EKG machine, are placed on your chest. The EKG records your heart in the resting stage.

During the test, you will lie on a table connected to the CT scanner, which is a large, donut-shaped machine. The table slides into the opening of the scanner, which then moves around your body. You may be asked to hold your breath for 20 to 30 seconds while about 200 pictures are taken of your heart.

The higher the number on your CT calcium score, the more plaque you have in your heart’s arteries.

The first step

Get screened. A simple heart screen at the Sanford Health Center for Screening can help you have a better understanding of what’s going on inside your body. The best solution is prevention. Women are less likely to survive their first heart attack, so it is important to prevent heart disease from reaching this point. Heart disease caught in the earliest stages gives you a better chance to fight and to live.

Through February 2017, the Sanford Health Center for Screening is offering the heart and vascular screens for discounted price of $25 per screen. Call (605) 312-2150 or (888) 996-4673 to schedule your screen today.


Posted Date: October 2017