Get a heart scan without a doctor's referral

Monday, January 5th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

For people who worry they might have heart disease - there's now a way to get some peace of mind without a doctor's referral.

It's an X-ray heart scan that rates the risk for heart disease. News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan has the story.

An X-ray picture of a beating heart - nothing new there, but when it's run through a computer - this picture can predict heart disease.

It starts with a CAT scan, that under the care of technician Janet Burger, can prove that even reporters have a heart. "What we're going to do is take a picture of your heart, I need you to lie down on your back."

The machine takes a big picture - then lots of close up pictures of the heart. The process takes a few minutes - and theres no need to change into a hospital gown. Reporter: "That's me?" Burger: "That's you."

MRI Specialists of Tulsa started offering this kind of walk in heart scan last year. The results show blockage in pink - and there's none in this image of my heart. "So that's a very good sign." Radiologist Doctor Robert Skib says the machine looks for calcium buildup in arteries. "What happens in cholesterol deposits, or soft plaque over time calcifies, that's hard plaque, and that's what we seen on the scan, that's a good indicator of something that might need to be corrected."

The patients generally don't see all these pictures - because the computer comes up with a single number - a cardiac score - that indicates risk. For people who need peace of mind - it's a convenient way to test for blockage - that may show a problem before symptoms show up.

The heart scan isn't generally covered by insurance, unless your doctor provides a referral. It costs $425. For more information call MRI Specialists of Tulsa at 523-7714.