Just how important is it to keep up with regular wellness visits in the big picture of your overall health? Very. In some cases, it can literally mean the difference between life and death.
A Routine Exam Leads to Surprising Results
Having recently signed up for Medicare, Sue Radovich, 65, set up a Medicare Annual Wellness Visit at the recommendation of her internal medicine provider, Erica Bruen, MD, with SCL Health Medical Group, part of Intermountain Health. As part of her “Welcome to Medicare” exam, Dr. Bruen also advised Radovich to undergo an EKG for screening purposes, which is used to detect irregular heart rhythms and blocked or narrowed arteries in the heart.
Neither had any reason to anticipate out-of-the-ordinary results. Radovich is active and enjoys walking, gardening, and housework. And she had not been experiencing chest pain or any other indications of a heart problem.
“I did not expect her EKG to be abnormal,” Dr. Bruen said. Her EKG was concerning for previous heart injury and she was referred to cardiology where she also failed her stress test. “She had two narrowed areas of her heart, one of which was on her left anterior descending artery, one of the biggest arteries to feed the heart. If that gets blocked off, it could result in sudden death.”
“They said it’s the ‘widow maker’ heart attack,” Radovich said. “You just drop over dead from it, and they can’t save you. My dad died at age 49, probably of a widow maker. He just keeled over. I think about that — that maybe the same thing was about to happen to me.”
Making a Full Recovery
Radovich underwent stenting to repair a 90 to 95 percent artery blockage and has recovered well.
“Sometimes when we’re going through all the questionnaires on these wellness visits, it can come across as a little tedious, but Sue may have had a massive heart attack and might not even be here today if we hadn’t,” Dr. Bruen said. “Had [Medicare] not offered that EKG, there was nothing in her review of systems that would have prompted me to think we needed to get one.”
After she’d recovered from her procedure, Radovich gifted Dr. Bruen a heart-shaped rock, in gratitude, to serve as a reminder that she’d saved a life.
If it’s been a while since your last regular checkup, or you’ve been putting off any recommended health screenings, call or go online to set up an appointment today. Who knows — it just might save your life.
To learn more about our primary care services visit sclhealth.org.