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New technology aids in early heart disease detection

February is considered the month of love and it is also the month that the American Heart Association asks that you time to love your heart.

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States.

The Heart Association says its important to take preventative steps to protect your health.

The machine is a definition scanner that looks for calcium build-ups in the heart.

The technology is able to catch abnormalities at an early stage, and experts say early detection is key in the fight against heart disease.

The Siemens Somatom Definition 128 Slice ATF is unknown to many, but Dr. Alan Hillard of Columbia’s Advanced Radiology says its one of the most groundbreaking technologies he has ever seen.

After the heart is scanned, Hillard looks for calcium build ups in the heart. If there is none, the heart is healthy. If he sees build-up, the condition is most likely serious.

When the machine first arrived, Hillard decided to give his accountant a free exam.

Hillard says he knew the man had a family history of heart disease, but he says the test results surprised them both.

“The initial results were a little scary. I didn’t quite know what to make of them. Dr. Hillard read them and said you need to see a cardiologist,” said accountant Steve Reiger.

A few emergency surgeries later and Regier is doing well. The doctor says Reiger would likely be dead if not for this technology.

“Here he was in his 40s and he has extensive disease. He didn’t really realize it. And we did save his life,” said Regier.

Hillard says it is always a good idea to be checking on your heart. He says anyone who smokes, has diabetes, high cholesterol, or a family history should be tested.

Columbia resident Deborah Crawford Hartley has an extensive family history of high cholesterol and heart attack.

She says she decided to take the preventative measure and get tested.

“For me its DNA. Family history is so important. I know we have high cholesterol. If there is the history there, than it should tell you something. It should tell you a story,” said Hartley.

Fortunately in Crawford Hartley’s case there was a happy ending.

“She didn’t have any calcium at all. It’s a very high predictive quotient that she won’t have significant heart disease in the heart in the next five years,” said Hillard.

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