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Essentia Health Offers Free Online Heart Health Risk Assessment

Sep 17, 2021 10:05AM ● By Med Magazine

Are you at risk of developing heart disease? Do you want to know more about the health of your heart?

A free online heart health risk assessment through Essentia Health can help you learn more about your potential for heart disease, as well as how you can prevent future complications. The assessment is available by clicking here (EssentiaHealth.org/MyHeart) and allows you to compare your actual age to your heart’s biological age, calculate the possibility of developing heart disease and prioritize your most harmful risk factors.

After completing the assessment, you will receive a personalized report that will summarize your risk factors, provide helpful tips and recommend next steps to living heart-healthy.

It pays to be proactive: How a heart screen may have saved one man’s life

Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Zach Messmer knows all about the importance of finding and treating it early on.

The 44-year-old from Fargo has a family history of heart disease. His father passed away at 53 from a heart attack; his paternal grandfather had triple bypass surgery three times; and an uncle had triple bypass surgery at 34. When he was still employed as a police officer, Zach, who now sells software to grain companies, started getting flagged for an irregular heartbeat while completing physicals for the force.

Messmer underwent a heart screen in June. A CT scan, to check for small deposits of calcium on the walls of the arteries, revealed a score of nearly 1,000; 400 or higher represents a red flag and Essentia recommends a consultation to discuss risk factors and additional testing. Four arteries were blocked, including the left anterior descending, which had 80% blockage.

On July 13, Dr. James Wright, a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon at Essentia Health, performed open-heart coronary artery bypass grafting on Messmer. Four days later, Messmer was discharged from the hospital. He did his cardiac rehab through Essentia and has had regular follow-ups with Dr. Wright. After two months, Messmer feels great. His confidence has returned along with his active lifestyle.

His family history made the health scare even more daunting for Messmer, who has two daughters and a son.

“I explained to my wife that it was almost like a PTSD moment because I kind of lived it with my father,” said Messmer, who was within 10 years of the age at which his dad died (53).

Looking back, he’s grateful that he was proactive about his heart health. He’s encouraged several friends and family members to get a heart screen.

“You’re not going to run from your family history,” Messmer said. “I think it saved my life. If this can help somebody that’s in the same predicament as me, thinking whether they should get this test done or not, even if it can help one person, that’s totally worth it. It was a life-saver and probably going to end up being one of the best decisions I’ve made.”

Messmer was thrilled with the care he received at Essentia Health-Fargo. His wife, Heather, left a lengthy thank-you note for Messmer’s nurses and entire care team.

“The staff was so generous and caring,” he said. “They really, really do make you feel loved. You’re probably at your worst, and they’re just very caring and very uplifting. They don’t let you sulk, they know what you can do, they know how far they can push you. We can’t say enough about the hospital staff, from start to finish. The professionalism and just taking care of me and making me feel comfortable.”

• Click here to learn more about the kind of heart screen that Messmer benefited from. The $50 screen includes a lipid profile, which is a lab test to measure cholesterol; CT calcium score; an electrocardiogram (EKG); and a visit with a cardiology provider.