Mike Webster's Story
Simple Test May Have Saved a Man’s Life After It Revealed 4 Blocked Arteries
When Mike Webster’s daughter, Wendy Yeary, suggested that he have a cardiac computed tomography (CT) imaging test for coronary artery calcium scoring, he thought it would be a waste of time. The athletic 72-year-old logged 20,000 steps a day on his Fitbit®, did 200 pushups every other day, and had no symptoms that would suggest heart disease. Little did he know that the test would likely save his life.
Wendy works for University Hospitals as a certified cardiac technician at University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center. She learned that the health system was offering calcium scoring tests for men aged 45 and older and women aged 55 and older, who have no history of coronary artery disease and have at least one other risk factor. Mike had been diagnosed with high blood pressure many years prior, and had it well-controlled with medication.
Fast, easy and painless, cardiac CT imaging for coronary artery calcium scoring measures the amount of calcium (plaque) that has accumulated in the walls of the coronary arteries. The simple X-ray provides physicians with a coronary artery calcium score. The higher your score, the greater your risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event within the next decade. UH physicians interpret scores higher than 400 to be in the high-risk category.
Mike’s score was 2,800.
Although he was surprised by the results, Mike still didn’t think there was a problem because he felt fine. But Wendy wasn’t taking any chances. She contacted the office of William Wolf, MD, Medical Director of University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute at UH Ahuja Medical Center, and made an appointment for her dad. Given that Mike’s score was so high, Dr. Wolf recommended a cardiac catheterization.
On Dec. 9, Dr. Wolf performed the procedure and found that Mike had severe blockages in four arteries – one was 100 percent blocked, one was 90 percent blocked and two were 80 percent blocked. Bypass surgery was needed.
Benjamin Medalion, MD, Director of Mechanical Circulatory Support, Division of Cardiac Surgery, UH Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute, performed quintuple bypass surgery on Mike on Dec. 29.
“Thank God I work for UH and encouraged my dad to have the calcium scoring test,” said Wendy. “I’m afraid of what may have happened to him had I not heard of the no-cost testing.”
Mike concurred, saying, “The calcium scoring test probably saved my life. I’m telling everyone I know to go have it done.” He continued, “Even if you’re physically active and feel good, your heart may still have blockages you’re not aware of.”
Today, Mike is feeling terrific and has begun walking again, slowly but surely adding steps until he feels well enough to attempt his goal. “By April, I want to be able to walk to the top of the 120-foot tall Kalberer Tower at Holden Arboretum in Kirtland without becoming out of breath. Thanks to UH, I know I can do it.”
Learn more about cardiac CT imaging for coronary artery calcium scoring. No-cost calcium scoring tests are offered at these UH locations.