CHECK UP 13: Pendleton man had no signs his heart was failing

Checkup 13 Heart scan

Check up 13

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - It's still hard for Tim Ryan to believe. He had four significant blockages of 80-percent or more in his heart and yet he felt fine. "I never
had any aches, pain or they never found any problem with my heart or anything," Ryan said.

Still his family doctor suggested Tim get a heart scan because he had risk factors like elevated blood pressure and cholesterol. The heart scan results were a red flag.

"The calcium scan was over 2000. Just to give you an idea, less than 100 is considered mild; 100 to 300 is probably medium and anything over three or four hundred really gets my attention. With his score greater than 2000, it really sent up a red flag that a high likelihood of blockage related disease," said Dr. Emily Ruden, a St. Vincent Cardiologist.

Additional tests detected four heart blockages and led to quadruple heart bypass surgery June 2.

"I think honestly without having discovered this given the severity of his disease it was truly not a matter of if, but when, he had a heart related event such as a heart attack or potentially sudden death," Dr. Ruden said.

But instead, Tim's got a vertical scar on his chest and a compelling story to share.

"I feel like I dodged a jet air plane with cannons on their wings. I'm very fortunate, indeed," Ryan said.

The heart scan, also known as a coronary calcium scan, is a specialized X-ray test that detects calcium-containing plaque in the arteries. Plaque in heart arteries can grow and restrict or block the flow of blood to the heart. The plaque measurement made with heart scan may allow doctors to identify possible coronary artery disease before patients have symptoms. Sometimes the test results lead doctors to prescribe medication or recommend lifestyle modification to reduce the risk of heart issues.

"In the right patient, I think its a wonderful test. It's the right test for somebody who is not having symptoms but has kind of a medium risk for heart disease, meaning they have risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol perhaps they have been a smoker, have diabetes, they are overweight, all of those traditional heart related risk factors, but they don't have known disease and they are not having symptoms. I think in those types of patients it can be quite useful to reclassify that patient as either low risk or high risk. So you take someone who is medium risk, their calcium score is zero and suddenly you realize they are much lower risk for having heart related events in the future" Dr. Ruden said.

"Heart disease is incredibly common, and the older we get, the more common it becomes it's not always obvious," said Dr. Ruden. "Mr. Ryan is 80-years-old and he always thought his heart was fine. I think what we can learn from him is even if you are not having symptoms, heart disease can still be quite serious."

If you would like to check your heart health, you may qualify for a $49 heart scan at St. Vincent.

You must be at least forty years old and have one of these risk factors:

•A family history of heart disease
•History of a stroke
•Other vascular disease
•Abnormal cholesterol levels
•High blood pressure

The appointments are available at these eleven central Indiana locations for qualified patients who have not had the scan in the last five years.

•New Castle

To register call the hotline at 1-866-824-3251 or register online HERE:

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