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Salida hospital expands cardiac testing

Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center now offers cardiac CT scans, which can help doctors detect or evaluate heart disease. This imaging test uses X-rays to take many detailed pictures of the heart and blood vessels. Computers can combine these pictures to create a 3-D image of the heart.heart

There are two main types of cardiac CT: coronary calcium scoring and coronary CT angiography.

A cardiac CT for calcium scoring, also known as a heart scan, is a simple, painless screening test. A heart scan looks for calcium in the walls of the coronary arteries, the vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. The amount of calcium found on this scan helps identify a patient’s risk for coronary artery disease.

Coronary CT angiography (angiogram) looks at the arteries that supply blood to the heart and can be used to diagnose the cause of chest pain or other symptoms. This test requires physician consultation because a contrast dye is injected into the patient’s veins and medication is usually prescribed to slow the heart rate to produce a clearer image on the scan.

“Upgrading our CT scanner to provide cardiac diagnostic studies is an important step in providing more comprehensive cardiology services locally,” said hospital CEO Bob Morasko.

The hospital purchased the new CT scanner to replace the CT scanner installed in 2003. In addition to offering cardiac capabilities, the new scanner provides enhanced image quality and reduces a patient’s exposure to radiation.

A $200,000 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) and proceeds from the HRRMC Foundation’s 2016 Jewel Ball helped pay for the new scanner, which cost $605,000.

HRRMC has been expanding its cardiac services over the past year. James Schmidt, M.D., an interventional cardiologist from Colorado Springs Cardiologists, began seeing patients full time in Chaffee County in the summer of 2016. Pamela Taylor, M.D., and Derrick Fansler, M.D., of Colorado Springs Cardiologists, provide coverage when Dr. Schmidt is not available.

The new CT scanner offers the cardiologists an important tool for diagnosing heart disease and enables patients to schedule tests locally rather than traveling to the Front Range.

To schedule a cardiac CT scan at HRRMC, with a doctor’s order, call (719) 530-2318.