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Franciscan Health Officials: 'Don't put off getting a heart scan'

A set of Lafayette siblings are working to break the cycle of heart issues in their family by getting heart scans together every five years. Little did they know, this year's scan may have saved two of the sibling's lives.

Posted: Feb 19, 2021 7:07 AM
Updated: Feb 19, 2021 11:17 AM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) --  Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and most racial and ethnic groups in the United States according to the CDC.  That's why this American Heart Month, News 18 is equipping you with the knowledge to help prevent it.

One Lafayette family has made it their mission to fight the disease. For Robin Devreese, it was the death of her father that sparked her and her sibling's push to prevent severe heart issues from continuing in the family.

Her father died of congestive heart failure five years ago. Now every five years she and her siblings get a heart scan. This year, they found it may have actually saved two of their lives.

"If all three of us hadn't had it again, we would never have known of the changes we would just be going along life normally," said Devreese.

Devreese, her sister, her sister's husband, and her brother got their first heart scan five years ago. At the time, one calcified plaque was found in the men while the sisters had no signs of blockage. Now after this year's heart scan, Robin Devreese is left just thinking of the consequences of what could have happened had they not gotten on this year, rather than actually having to live through it.

"My results came back with no calcium deposits again and my sister's results showed three calcium deposits, as well as a spot on her lung, and my brother-in-law, showed two," said Devreese.

'Calcium Deposits' or 'Calcified Plaque' can build-up in the arteries around the heart. The best way to describe it is by comparing it to bacon grease. When you pour it down the drain, which in this case the drain would compare to arteries, most of it gets flushed down. But some of it can harden and get stuck in the "drain" or arteries. The portion that's stuck is an example of how Calcified Plaque builds up in the arteries. When that happens it prevents blood from traveling through the arteries to the heart.

The heart scan is designed to help detect the plaque early.

"Anybody who has heart failure history, anywhere in their family it is so important to do this right now," said Devreese.

Franciscan Health is offering these scans for $49. The scan is non-invasive and takes around 10 minutes in total.

"It is very important to have it done if you are diabetic, have cholesterol results, high blood pressure, or even that family history," said Meghan McCauley, a health promotions specialist with Franciscan Health.

She recommends getting the scan starting at age 40. And said the check-up is not only simple but it has also saved lives.

"The amount of lives that we have saved through this screening program and all those success stories is outstanding," said McCauley. "What I love about it is getting those patients linked into those services at our hospital so we can stop a cardiac event before it ever happens."

Franciscan Health is urging people to get scanned even during the Covid-19 pandemic. You can schedule your appointment here.

Other Franciscan Heart Health Tools:

Franciscan Health offers a grant program, called Revive & Survive for non-profits to apply for an AED. Click here to learn more. The site also provides options for companies that might not meet the grant guidelines but is still need an AED.

Franciscan also offers CPR classes for adults and infant CPR for new parents. Click here to learn more.

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