Special Heart Camera Could Help Save Your Life

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, but it is preventable and controllable.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 600,000 people die from heart disease in the United States each year — that’s one out of every four deaths.

“I had a really big tightening in my chest,” says Myrna Kettler. “I couldn’t walk.”

Like many women, Kettler went through life never thinking she would have to worry about heart disease.

“I was overweight, but I had annual checkups every year,” Kettler says. “My blood pressure, my cholesterol, everything was good.”

But everything changed on a vacation back in 2009 when the SoCal resident suffered pain, but still refused to believe it was anything serious.

“I didn’t know if it had to do with something I had eaten — my friend had given me Gas-X. It just never occurred to me that it would have anything to do with my heart, says Myra.”

Every year, heart disease claims the lives of more women than breast cancer and lung cancer combined.

The most common type is coronary artery disease, where plaque builds up in the arteries, causing blood flow to slow down or stop completely.

“We’re looking for blocked heart arteries, some reason for why patient has chest pain or is at risk for significant coronary disease,” explains Dr. Nicole Weinberg, of Saint John’s Health Center.

Over at the Pacific Heart Institute at St. John’s, advanced new technology is helping patients keep tabs on their tickers like never before.

It is one of two places in Los Angeles that has the D-Spect camera.

It’s a new nuclear camera with the ability to take pictures sitting up, lying down and reclining.

The camera itself is much smaller than it had been in the past.

The D-Spect camera allows doctors to obtain enhanced diagnostic images of the heart with significantly less radiation and without skipping a beat.

The old cameras took about 30 minutes for each set of images. Now, the studies can be done within about four minutes.

“They’ll be able to be treated sooner, before they actually have damage to their heart muscle that becomes permanent,” Dr. Weinberg says.

This cutting-edge camera could have shown Myrna her heart health was in jeopardy.

“I did have 95% occlusion to the artery — the widower’s artery – the LAD,” she says.

She underwent successful heart surgery for CAD, and the now 70-year-old is encouraging others to always check the pulse of what new medical tools are available.

“If a doctor recommends it, people can learn more and more about cardiac disease,” Kettler says.

If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or have a family history of heart problems, you are the ideal candidate for this camera.

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