A 90-second heart test could save your life

09.09.2021

Nothing warned Chip Mitros, 45, that his heart was in bad shape. He faithfully exercised five days a week at a gym near his Niles, Michigan, home, had never smoked and felt he was in good health.
 
That all changed in 2020. With his gym closed, a newborn son plus four other children and a home office for his work with a medical device company, Chip's whole routine was out of balance. So was his health.
 
"It was a year of letting things go," he said. "I didn't exercise. I didn't pay attention to what I ate."
 
By April 2021, bad habits and inactivity took a toll on his body and left him without energy. His doctor ran a series of exercise stress tests to check his heart health. All the results came back normal. Chip needed to eat better, get back to exercising and lose the weight he'd gained in the past year.
 
"It was pretty dramatic how out of shape I was," he confessed. Along with cutting out the ice cream, he started walking and added the Couch to 5K training app to his devices.
 
But Chip kept hitting a wall.
 
“I couldn't make any progress,” Chip said. “I knew something was up and made a conscious decision to take charge of my health.”
 
On impulse, he shared his recent health concerns with a close family friend who is a family medicine doctor. His friend suggested Chip look into a cardiac calcium scan at Goshen Health.
 
A calcium screening is a simple, painless CT scan that measures the amount of calcium deposits in the arteries of the heart. The higher the number, the greater the risk of a heart attack or stroke.
 
After quick research online, Chip decided the $49 scan was worth it. It could give him information he needed to make decisions about his health. He didn't need a referral from a doctor and could schedule the short appointment to fit his schedule.
 
What Chip didn't expect was his score. At 443, he was at high risk for serious complications.
 
Additional tests ordered by his cardiologist validated the calcium score screening. Chip had more than 80 percent blockage in three arteries. After cardiac catherization couldn't open the blocked arteries, he had bypass surgery to get blood flowing again.
 
A day after surgery, Chip knew he wanted to share his story. He turned to social media to encourage friends, family and work colleagues to know their calcium scores.
 
"If you don’t know your calcium risk score, find out your number," Chip posted on his Facebook page. "Go invest in your future."
 
Today, Chip is grateful to have a chance for a long life with his family.
 
"You just never know," he said. "I was a time bomb, and a 90-second screening test saved my life."