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Stopping heart problems before they ever started

Bob Halvorson had heard of heart screens and CT scans, but didn’t think he needed them. The recently retired pharmacist did have high cholesterol, but took medication to manage his condition and stayed active three to four times a week.

“I had a relative tell me about these screens several years ago,” the 65-year-old recalls. “ But it was after I had a coworker who had a heart screen with results that weren’t expected that I decided to make a call to the screening center. I had all of these influences in my mind, but I still wouldn’t go sign up for the screening myself.”

“In June 2014 following my knee replacement surgery, I was in rehab on the stationary bicycle,” says Bob. “I noticed some burning in my upper back that I initially hoped was acid reflux. In back of my mind I did not rule out a heart issue.”

After talking to his wife, Cheryl, they decided to make an appointment for a heart screen. So the couple went together and both had a heart screen in May 2015 at Sanford Center for Screening.

“Cheryl’s results came back normal,” Bob says. “But mine were just the opposite. My calcium score was extremely high.”

Bob was immediately referred to Sanford cardiologist, Susan Farkas, MD, at the East Grand Fork clinic. After an angiogram, plaque was most definitely present in Bob’s arteries, and something had to be done to prevent a life-threatening event.

“Unfortunately, I wasn’t a candidate to have stents placed through a minimally invasive procedure,” Bob says. “So Dr. Farkas gave me my treatment options. I decided to have bypass surgery.”

Just a few days later in June 2015, Sanford cardiothoracic surgeon, Roxanne Newman, MD, performed a quadruple bypass to keep Bob’s heart working like it should. The surgery was successful, and now Bob and Cheryl are enjoying retirement and preparing to move to Oregon to be closer to family.

Whether you have the typical signs of heart disease or any of the risk factors, this heart screen is a simple way to tip you off to problems, or give you peace of mind that everything is ok. “My condition was caught before I had a heart attack, so my heart was in great condition. My rehab has gone great and I’m staying active and taking walks with my wife ,” says Bob.”

The couple also returned to the Sanford Center for Screening for a vascular screen, just in case. All results came back normal, much to Bob and Cheryl’s relief.

“I know I still have to manage my lifestyle and be aware that I’m at risk for future problems,” Bob says. “But now I know what I’m dealing with, and I was able to proactively help my situation before something really bad could have happened. And it was all because I was screened.”

Learn more about screenings available at Sanford Center for Screening here.

Posted Date: December 2015