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In the nick of time - How a simple screen saved a life

Mike Koenig never even considered he might have heart problems. While both of his parents had heart issues, they occurred so late in their lives that Mike was not considered to be at risk.

Still, the 62-year-old pilot from Moorhead didn’t want to follow in his parents’ footsteps and has spent most of his life taking appropriate measures to help keep his heart healthy.

“I tried to stay physically active and even exercised six times a week,” Mike says. “I believed that I was doing great, as I was experiencing no indication of a heart problem. I noticed I felt tired, but I thought it was just age.”

Mike completed routine checks and his blood pressure and cholesterol levels were always normal.

It was his wife, Cindy, who finally convinced Mike to have a heart screen along with her at Sanford Center for Screening. And the results were anything but expected.

Heart screens, also called cardiac scoring, calculate a person’s risk of developing heart disease by measuring the amount of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries.The higher the number of the screen means the higher the risk.

“A score of 400 or more is considered high risk,” Mike says. “I scored 3,953 and clearly needed immediate attention.”

Mike was referred to Sanford cardiologist Rawa Sarji, DO, who scheduled Mike for a stress test. But before that could happen, Mike began to feel extremely tired and Cindy insisted they go to the emergency room.

An angiogram in the ER revealed shocking news. Mike had five blockages in his heart that required five bypasses, which were performed bySanford cardiothoracic surgeon, Roxanne Newman, MD.

“I never in a million years thought I would have heart issues,” Mike says. “My friends say I’m one of the hardest workers and exercise fanatics they have ever known. So this entire experience was quite surprising.”

Now, a few months after his surgery, Mike is recovering well and feeling great. But he wasn’t the only one who benefited from a heart screen.

“Because of what I discovered, my brother also had a heart scan – and also needed bypass surgery,” Mike says. “Now all four of my sisters are also going to get screened. This heart screening, along with the experts at Sanford, saved my life.”

From prevention to diagnosis to treatment, trust your heart to the region’s heart experts and make Sanford your premier destination for heart care.

Posted Date: January 2016