Sometimes we need a nudge to do what we know we should do. In early 2009 Naperville resident Richard Kotowski, 51, had been experiencing chest discomfort whenever he used his snowblower or walked on his treadmill.
|HEART STORY: RICHARD KOTOWSKI
He resisted his wife's suggestion to get checked out, but he did visit Edward Hospital's Web site where he found the HeartAware risk assessment.
After answering five minutes' worth of questions about his lifestyle and personal and family health history, he pulled up his HeartAware report. His weight, inactivity and other factors indicated he was at high risk for cardiovascular disease. He had the nudge he needed. When asked at the end of the questionnaire if he would be willing to be contacted for follow up, he said "yes."
When Richard went to Edward for his free consultation he was advised to link up with a primary care physician - he was currently between doctors - and to undergo an Ultra Fast Heart Scan (UFHS) to see how much calcium blockage he had in his arteries.
His 1,200+ score on the heart scan was a red flag and his new family doctor, Hiam Eldewek, DO, prescribed an echo stress test, which Richard failed. An angiogram the next morning conducted by Anand Ramanathan, MD of Midwest Heart Specialists, showed serious blockage. That afternoon, Frank Lutrin, MD of Cardiac Surgery Associates, performed triple bypass surgery.
"I feel great now," says Richard, who is taking part in cardiac rehabilitation and 30 pounds lighter. "At first I was concerned about my situation, things felt surreal. But everything was done so professionally, from the time of the risk assessment all the way through surgery and rehab, that I wasn't overly worried about the outcome. That's how comfortable I was made to feel."
"There's no doubt in my mind that lives have been saved thanks to an early warning on HeartAware," says Vincent Bufalino, MD, medical director of Edward Heart Hospital and cardiologist with Midwest Heart Specialists. "The assessment is easy to do, and it helps knock down the denial that a lot of people have about their own risk of disease. Once at-risk people take this step, they are much more likely to get the professional help they need to extend their lives."
HeartAware, which can be found at edward.org/heartaware, is just one of the assessment tools on Edward's online early detection center. There also are risk assessments for stroke, lung and sleep disorders.
Taking control of your health means understanding both your risk level and the lifestyle and medical factors that can lead to disease. The online assessment tools provide personalized information on keeping your risk low or reducing it if it's not where you'd like it to be.