Heart Check Leads to Lifestyle Changes

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Heart Check Leads to Lifestyle Changes

by -

Dr. Keith Kopec

As much as he tried, Richard Velazquez couldn’t stop thinking about the chest pain he experienced when he was lifting furniture and boxes during a move a little over a year ago. 

“I felt a sharp pain go down my left hand,” said Richard Velazquez. “I also started sweating. It really scared me. The symptoms went away but ever since then I haven’t felt quite right. I started to notice other concerning symptoms – there were times my heart was racing at night and I was also experiencing periodic headaches.” 

Velazquez also has a family history of heart disease. He learned about UnityPoint Health - St. Luke’s Heart Check and signed up.

“I didn’t want to be that guy who ignored the warning signs of a heart attack,” said Velazquez. “I decided even if everything checked out fine – it would be good to have peace of mind.”

Heart Check is a series of five tests at St. Luke’s, which include an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, abdominal aortic aneurysm test, carotid artery ultrasound and ankle-brachial Index test for peripheral artery disease.

 Keith Kopec, MD

“If someone is very conscientious about their health, or if they have a family history of cardiovascular disease there is value in these tests,” said Keith Kopec, MD, UnityPoint Health – Cardiology Clinic. “These screenings allow us to pick up on a condition that is not always apparent based on a patient’s history or through a routine physical exam.”

St. Luke’s Heart Check is offered several times a year for $195 and includes a consultation with a heart care expert. All tests are performed at the hospital and the results are shared at the end of the appointment.

“These tests will identify areas of improvement and allow individuals to pick up on issues which can be addressed, such as initiating cholesterol-lowering medications, treating high blood pressure and making lifestyle changes to potentially prevent future issues,” said Dr. Kopec.

Velazquez identified areas to make some changes. His results identified he had high blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides. He’s now working with his UnityPoint Clinic family doctor to implement lifestyle changes and started taking medication.

“This is the motivation I needed to make positive changes in my life,” said Velazquez. “I have two sons that depend on me,” said Velazquez. “I also coach several sports – I have a lot of kids I work with that count on me. Someday my own sons will have children and I want to be around to enjoy that stage of life.”

“This is an affordable option for individuals that may have heart disease risks and want to be proactive,” said Dr. Kopec. “For individuals who find something, this can be very impactful down the road.”

“It’s the best $195 I have ever spent,” said Velazquez. “What needs to be addressed is being addressed. I’m not going to be that guy where it’s too late.”

See upcoming dates and request information about St. Luke's Heart Check.