Baptist’s Low-Cost Screening Saved Louisiana Man’s Life, Baptist Employees Create Human Heart to Emphasize Importance of Heart Disease

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

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Each year, February brings blanket shades of red throughout the United States. February marks American Heart Month, a great time to commit to a healthy lifestyle and make small changes that can lead to a lifetime of heart health. It’s all part of the message that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women.

The first Friday during the month of February is deemed “National Wear Red Day” signifying heart disease is the number one killer of women. Baptist employees, shown on the front cover of this issue of the magazine, supported the occasion and organized themselves in shape of a heart. This reinforces the fact that people need to know their risk factors for heart disease.

Approximately 20 years ago, with heart disease so relevant in Mississippi, Baptist was the first in the Metro Jackson area to create a physician driven, low-cost heart screening. Throughout the years, on the first Saturday in February, approximately 300 to 400 people come to Baptist to participate in the screening, which kicks off Baptist’s month long heart awareness campaign.

The impact of this screening became so significant, Baptist began offering the screening, called Heart Basic, Monday through Friday throughout the year for those 18 years of age and older. Valued at $450, the $25 screening features Baptist’s Heart Basic package which includes:

• Heart risk assessment
• Blood pressure
• Height and weight with BMI calculation
• EKG
• Total cholesterol and glucose

For those at least 45 years of age and older, there is a more in-depth screening, called Heart Premium. This $150 screening offers:

  • Carotid ultrasound
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • ABI - comparison of blood pressure in arm and legs to detect artery blockage in legs
  • Blood Pressure
  • CT scan of the heart (calcium score)
  • Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Resting EKG
  • Total cholesterol blood work

In fact, after Elmer Schepers of Tallulah, La. experienced abnormal breathing, his wife was very concerned and found the Heart Premium screening at baptistheart.org. The screening revealed a  coronary artery calcium score of 2000 which is very high, and as a result , he was evaluated by Baptist Heart Cardiologist Alfredo Figueroa and underwent a heart catheterization.  He was discovered to have blockages in three of the main arteries supplying blood to his heart which led to Dr. William Harris, a Baptist Heart cardiovascular surgeon, performing a three vessel bypass surgery. This may very well have saved Schepers life or prevented a major heart  attack.

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As part of the Heart Premium Screening plan, a CT scan of the heart is To look for calcium in the walls of the arteries of the heart (coronary arteries). Coronary calcium scans are also called cardiac calcium scoring. Calcium in the coronary arteries indicates the presence of plaque buildup. A score of zero is normal. Higher values are associated with more plaque buildup and increasing risks of heart attacks.  Scores over 400 are generally considered high and suggest the need for further heart testing.

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