A patient’s story – testimony to the value of screening for heart disease
Elmhurst, Ill. (February 6, 2014)– Kerry Minow, 56, who works in Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare’s (EMHC) laboratory services department, found out further testing was recommended when she took advantage of HeartAware, a free online screening for heart disease, that was offered to EMHC employees in October 2013.
She scheduled a test that measures the amount of calcium buildup in the arteries, which is a sign of heart disease, and an ultrasound that measures the risk of stroke. Neither test revealed any issues. Naturally, she was relieved — especially because she knows how screenings can save lives. Her husband’s, for example.
In 2009, Mike Minow took advantage of a free heart scan offered by EMHC and Midwest Heart Specialists (now Midwest Heart-Advocate Medical Group) as part of the Healthy Hearts for Police and Firefighters program, even though Mike had no symptoms of heart disease.
“You lie on your back, they slide you in the CT scanner and about 10 minutes later, it’s over. It was a piece of cake,” recalls Mike, 57, of Schaumburg, now retired from the Bensenville Fire Protection District. The best calcium score is zero; Mike’s was 200. “I was a little shocked. I had taken care of myself. I had quit smoking in 2000, mostly ate well and exercised regularly.”
The nurse recommended that Mike follow up with his primary care physician, Emmanuel Linchangco, MD, an internist with Elmhurst Memorial Primary Care Associates.
“I looked at all his factors, including that he didn’t know his family medical history,” says Dr. Linchangco. “And even though he was actually healthy overall, I thought that he should have a stress echocardiogram just to be sure.”
And that’s the day Kerry may remember most of all. She was at her desk during Mike’s stress test.
“He called and said he was being admitted. I thought he was joking — he does that — but I saw that the call was coming from the central admissions area. I was stunned,” she says.
Mike’s stress test revealed an occluded right coronary artery and clogging in his posterior descending artery. He was scheduled for angioplasty the next morning.
“I didn’t have any symptoms,” says Mike. “The day before, I was shoveling snow for four hours. Judging by the photos of my heart, I think that I was close to a heart attack. Real close.”
Daniel Sullivan, MD, an interventional cardiologist with Midwest Heart-Advocate Medical Group, performed the angioplasty and inserted stents. Mike was up and walking the same day. He started a three-month cardiac rehabilitation program before he even left the hospital two days later. Today, Mike is healthy, and he and Kerry believe that his screening probably saved his life.
Comments Dr. Linchangco, “Screenings offer an objective result where people can say, ‘OK, I have these issues, and I need to do something about them.’ Catching those issues early — that’s the key.”
Kerry and Mike also thank Dr. Linchangco for his diligence. “If he had taken a wait-and-see approach, Mike probably would have had a heart attack,” says Kerry.
Since Mike’s surgery, Kerry admits she takes every opportunity to tell people about getting screened. “It offers great peace of mind because we know what can happen,” she says.
To find out if you’re at risk for heart disease, take EMH’s free five-minute test that could save your life at www.emhc.org/HealthAware. For more information about EMH activities during Heart Month in February, visit www.emhc.org/services/cardiology/community-ed.
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