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A test that could change your life
If there was a test that could help you avoid a heart attack, would you take it?
A coronary calcium scan takes pictures of your heart with CT technology, looking for the plaque (made partially of fat and calcium) in your heart’s arteries. Plaque isn’t good for your heart, and this test is valuable because of how it can detect heart disease that an EKG or a stress test might not detect. It’s also an inexpensive, noninvasive test that offers information your healthcare provider can use to help you manage your risk for a heart attack.
Although insurance does not pay for the coronary calcium screening, it is an inexpensive test that has the potential to change lives in a dramatic way. I’ve seen how this information can motive patients to take better care of themselves and their health once they have seen the concrete evidence that the calcium scoring test provides. It can offer a great assessment of an individual’s risk of heart attack in patients without cardiac symptoms.
What’s more, the test can also bring peace of mind for individuals who have a strong family history of heart disease or are concerned about side effects of cholesterol lowering medication but who’s test results show no evidence of the disease. Coronary calcium scoring is a screening option for people who have at least one of the key risk factors for heart disease – like high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes or a family history of heart disease.
I believe this test is one of the best investments people can make in their heart health, and I highly recommend it to patients who meet the criteria. It provides useful information we can use to determine if you’re doing enough to control your heart disease risk or if we need to be more aggressive in our management of this potentially deadly disease.
CHI Memorial offers coronary calcium scoring for $59 and requires a physician order. To schedule, call (423) 495-2130.
Vicky Cooke, ANPC, FNP
Do you need hormone replacement therapy?
Mood swings, irritability, insomnia. Hot flashes, fatigue, low libido and weight gain. The combination of symptoms that can result from menopause or perimenopause can cause serious disruptions in women’s lives. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is used to reduce the symptoms of menopause.
It’s often a woman’s family that suggests she see her doctor about the effects these symptoms are having on her health and relationships. HRT can help clear mental fogginess, decrease the frequency and intensity of hot flashes, increase energy, and help with mood swings, irritability and insomnia.In order to find the right balance of HRT, we work with a compounding pharmacy to deliver bio-identical hormones in a variety of forms, including pellets that are placed under the skin, creams and troches that dissolve under the tongue. These methods have lower heart-related side effects than injections or pills.
Hormone replacement is not a guarantee, but it’s effective in managing symptoms in about 70 percent of people. For those who it is effective, it’s an option worth exploring if you’re suffering from the frustrating symptoms of menopause. Women with a history of estrogen induced migraines, clotting disorders, previous coronary events or breast cancer are not candidates for hormone replacement therapy. In these instances, we sometimes recommend black cohosh or a low dose antidepressant to help manage symptoms.
Any time you’re having persistent symptoms that are interfering with your daily life, it’s time to have a conversation with your advance practice provider. There are always risks and benefits to any medication – it’s my job to discuss the options with you to help you make an informed decision about your health.
Lynn Grotefendt, FNP