New Heart Health Screening
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New Heart Health Screening

BENNINGTON, VT—February 13, 2019—A new heart health screening will soon be available to local patients at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC). It will allow people to see their risk of a heart-related health event before symptoms arise.

Cardiac Calcium Scoring uses a computed tomography (CT) scan and specialized software to allow doctors to detect calcium in the coronary artery. A score of zero on the test indicates low risk, and increasing levels indicate increasing risk of a heart attack and stroke.

In the past, doctors would use a patient’s risk factors—like family history, if they have high blood pressure or diabetes, and whether they smoke, for instance—to determine risk. Historically, there was not an imaging study available for patients who did not present symptoms, like chest pains or shortness of breath. Fifty-two percent of people who experience heart attacks had no previous symptoms, according to the American Heart Association. 

The calcium score can be used with the results of a cholesterol blood test and the evaluation of other risk factors to determine an individualized treatment plan. Knowing the result can allow patients to get treatment and make lifestyle changes to lower their risk.

CT scans are one of the most common imaging tests and can be done on any part of the body. CT scans are used to diagnose many health problems, including bone and joint problems, bleeding disorders, and cancer. Comparing two CT scans can tell doctors if a treatment is working. The procedure takes 30 minutes, and it is painless.

Calcium scoring will be available to patients at SVMC beginning Monday, February 18, 2019.

Few insurers cover the cost of this screening exam at this time. Patients should call their insurance company to learn more. For those not covered by insurance, the cost is $100 and is due at the time of service. A $25 professional fee for the reading will be billed at a later date. To schedule a test, patients can discuss with their primary care provider and/or cardiologist for a referral.

Patient should consult with their ordering provider for results, including their calcium score and follow up recommendations.

About SVHC:
Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) is a comprehensive, preeminent, health care system providing exceptional, convenient, and affordable care to the communities of Bennington and Windham Counties of Vermont, eastern Rensselaer and Washington Counties of New York, and northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts. SVHC includes Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center, the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, and the SVHC Foundation. SVMC includes 25 primary and specialty care practices. For more information, visit svhealthcare.org.

Southwestern Vermont Health Care complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. Language assistance services, free of charge, are available at 1-800-367-9559.

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Southwestern Vermont Medical Center is hosting an American Red Cross Blood drive 11:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Thursday, December 5, 2019, in its employee cafeteria.

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