How a quick test saved a local man’s life

Posted at 11:13 AM, Jul 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-04 13:13:05-04

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    St. Louis, MO (KMOV) — A quick and simple test could tell someone if they’re on the road to having a heart attack. It’s called a coronary calcium scan and Jason Grellner credits it with saving his life.

“It takes longer to take your shirt off and put it back on than it does to actually do the test,” said Grellner.

Grellner is well-known for his work combating meth labs in Franklin County during a career with the sheriff’s department. He has a family history of heart disease, and has high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

But the results of a coronary calcium scan is what led doctors to the discovery that Grellner was a heart attack just waiting to happen.

“Out of the eight arteries in my heart, three were closed at 100% and two more were closed, they estimated at that time above 85%,” said Grellner.

The procedure is described as a fancy form of an x-ray that looks for calcium in the arteries to the heart. Calcium is one of the ingredients in the plaque that clogs arteries.

“And we can get a scan and actually peer inside and see their coronary arteries without going an invasive route. So, it’s safe, non-invasive and it’s quick,” said cardiologist Dr. John M. Mohart of Mercy Hospital Washington.

Dr. Mohart said the test isn’t for everyone. He recommends it for adults older than 35 who either have a family history of heart disease or who have any of the risk factors which are high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and obesity.

“If we can treat people earlier and prevent heart attacks down the road, that’s our goal,” said Dr. Mohart.

Grellner said his problem with clogged arteries was detected before there was any damage to his heart. He underwent a quintuple bypass surgery earlier this year.

“And now I’ve got a new lease on life. I’ve got, hopefully, another 50 years,” said Grellner.

The test isn’t covered by insurance but only costs $130. Mercy Hospital Washington provided this link for locations that conduct coronary calcium scans.

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