CLEVELAND (WJW)– Alan Studt loves an adventure, often hiking and traveling to remote places. But that could have turned deadly for the 62-year-old Parma man.
With a family history of heart problems and high cholesterol, Studt’s doctor last year ordered a no-cost coronary calcium score test through University Hospitals. The results from his heart test were alarming.
“I was shocked,” Studt said. “My score was 1,638. Anything over 400 is considered high risk.”
Despite having no symptoms of heart problems and passing a follow-up stress test, further testing revealed four major artery blockages. Studt had a quadruple bypass surgery and is now recovering. With February marking American Heart Month, he’s crediting the test for helping him get the critical surgery.
“I credit it totally because I wouldn’t have known to look any further,” he said.
The calcium score test measures calcified plaque in arteries to help determine heart attack risk, according to University Hospitals Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Farshad Forouzandeh.
He said a score of zero means there is no calcified plaque in the heart and the 10-year risk of a heart attack is less than one percent. With a score of 400 or above, the risk rises to 24 percent.
“It’s basically a short version of the CT scan we do to look at the heart arteries and see if there’s any deposition of calcium,” he said.
University Hospitals began offering the test at no cost in 2016. The hospital said before that, few patients got the test because it’s generally not covered by insurance and can cost up to $800.
While the test is not a perfect indicator of heart attack – and doesn’t reveal soft plaques that have not yet calcified – Forouzandeh said it’s a simple first step to help diagnose coronary artery disease and determine treatment.
“It has improved quite a bit,” he said of the test. “It can look at every single artery individually and gives the number in that artery.”
UH said a doctor’s order is required to get a calcium score test, and more information is available at uhhospitals.org/calciumscore. Studt said it might have saved his life.
“I feel like I have a monkey off my back,” he said.