In January, 51-year old Pete Bean of Aurora visited his brother Dennis, 57, in an Oklahoma hospital. Dennis had just had emergency triple bypass surgery.
"Seeing him hooked up to all those tubes scared me straight about finally getting checked out," recalls Pete. "I knew I might also be at greater risk because our father had passed away from heart trouble 12 years ago."
When Bean saw notices from Edward Hospital about the Ultra Fast Heart Scan, he decided that would be a good place to start. The scan detects calcium build-up in the coronary arteries, the most common cause of heart disease. Sometimes other problems with the heart, and even lungs, show up.
Which is what happened in Bean's case. His scan strongly suggested the presence of an aneurysm, a dangerous bulge in the aorta, which is the largest artery and distributes oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.
Bean was referred to Anand Ramanathan, MD, a cardiologist with Advocate Medical Group.
"We learned that his thoracic aneurysm was at 5.3 centimeters – at this point the risk of rupture increases," says Dr. Ramanathan.
In late March at Edward, cardiothoracic surgeon Bryan Foy, MD, of Cardiac Surgery Associates, performed open heart surgery to repair Bean's aneurysm.
"We're seeing more patients getting tests for other purposes that can help diagnose aneurysms before they cause trouble," says Dr. Foy. "There are very few otherwise inevitably fatal conditions that can be treated in a single day with a 98 percent success rate."
Bean plans to volunteer a few hours each month in Edward's Hearts Alive program, in which former cardiac patients provide support and information to current patients.
"I'm determined to encourage others to get tested for risk of heart disease," says Bean. "You just don't know until that 'episode' happens. Then it may be too late." For more information, visit www.edward.org/heartscreening.
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