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Call me when you're having chest pain

Posted Oct 01 2008 8:26pm


I met a patient, Anna, yesterday. She was quite frustrated and frightened.

At age 50, Anna suffered a heart attack and received a stent to her left anterior descending coronary artery. What she found upsetting is that, because several members of her family had suffered heart attacks in their 40s (Dad--heart attack at age 45, paternal uncle--heart attack age 40, and even another uncle with heart attack in his late 20s), she had repeatedly asked her doctor whether she was okay.

She received the usual array of false assurances: "You're feeling fine, right? Then don't worry about it." "Look. Your cholesterol is in the normal range. Even your cholesterol/HDL ratio is fine." "Women don't get heart disease until later in life."

All proved absolutely false. As we talked, Anna exclaimed, "I think what I've been told all along is that we'll take you seriously when you finally have a heart attack!"

She's exactly right. The vast majority of times, heart disease is discovered by accident, usually because of an "event" like heart attack. This is like changing the oil in your car when it finally breaks down--it's too late.

CT heart scan, followed by lipoprotein testing and associated values, then correction of your specific causes. It's that simple.

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