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Sanford Health Announces New Heart Screening Program - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Sanford Health Announces New Heart Screening Program

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Sanford Health in Fargo announced a new heart screening program Oct. 24 that is able to estimate the risk that a patient will develop heart disease in the next 10 years.

The program is designed to test for the disease with two major components that make it unique.

"We're taking someone's traditional risk factors and combining it with an actual calcium score," says Sanford Health Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Thomas Haldis. "In the past, it would just be questionnaires, so it would be an interview with your doctor or healthcare provider and we would ask you a series of questions looking at your risk factors," he says.

Some risk factors measured include cholesterol, blood pressure and body mass index. Patients will also participate in an electrocardiogram and answer questions about medical and family history, physical activity, diet and tobacco use. The next step is a CT scan to see images of calcification in the heart's arteries.

 "It takes a matter of seconds to get the images, it isn't painful and the radiation dose is minimal," says Dr. Haldis. "This test gives us objective evidence of coronary disease on top of those risk factors and it is able to quantitate the amount of calcium in the coronary arteries," he says.

Both components of the program are not necessary for everyone. Dr. Haldis says that only those patients who are determined to be at intermediate or high risk after those preliminary tests will receive an order for the Heart Score CT scan. Following both tests, intermediate and high-risk patients will receive guidance on how to follow up with their primary care provider or a cardiologist.

Dr. Haldis stresses the importance of prevention and says that it is very important to come in for serious symptoms and also if one has a family history of heart disease.

"You know what happened to your mom and dad when they were 60 and you're thinking ‘Oh that will never happen to me' " he says.

Though Sanford Health announced the program Oct. 24, the procedure has been in use since Oct. 21, with 50 scans scheduled and 15 scans under its belt- three of which resulted in intermediate or high risk patients.

Dr. Haldis says he expects several hundred people going through the program before one year is completed.

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