The science of predicting a heart attack
07/25/2018

​For many people, a heart attack comes without warning, leading to death or perhaps changing life forever. But what if there was a way to predict who was going to have one? 

UofL Physicians – Cardiovascular Medicine Henry Sadlo, M.D., has been a cardiologist in Louisville for 28 years, 24 of those spent in hospitals treating patients who had heart attacks or other cardiovascular problems. 

Now, as director of cardiovascular disease prevention at UofL Physicians and an assistant professor of medicine at the UofL School of Medicine, he works to try to prevent the conditions he used to treat.

At the UofL Physicians – Cardiovascular Medicine office in St. Matthews, which recently opened at 6420 Dutchmans Parkway in the Springs Medical Center,  Sadlo sees many patients with chest pain, atrial fibrillation or other heart problems, but he also tries to identify the patients who don’t have any symptoms and are healthy and active, but could still be at risk for a heart attack.

“It could be next week or next month, or even next year when they could have a heart attack, but that’s my goal – to find these patients and reduce their risk,

and treat heart disease before it worsens,” he said.

Sadlo founded the coronary calcium scanning program at UofL with a goal of helping at-risk patients discover problems before it’s too late. He said coronary calcium scanning is one of his best tools, and can determine whether a patient has mild, moderate or advanced heart disease.  He said the test can show in great detail the amount of calcium in the arteries, and the location. 

Many patients found to be at risk had no symptoms or chest pain, but the test allowed them to be treated early before ending up in a much worse situation in the emergency room.

He said there are five primary risk factors for heart disease, which would indicate a need for coronary calcium scanning:

  • Family history 
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol level

He said in most cases, family history is the most important risk factor, followed by smoking, which inflames the arteries in the heart. Even if someone only has a risk factor of family history, he said it is important to get screened early to determine whether there is any plaque buildup that could lead to major problems down the road.

To find out more about coronary calcium scanning, call UofL Physicians – Cardiovascular Medicine at 502-588-4600. In addition to coronary calcium scanning, UofL Physicians – Cardiovascular Medicine officers offer a full range of outpatient cardiovascular services, including cardiac stress tests and stress echocardiograms.
 

For Providers: How to Order Coronary Calcium Imaging

Any physician, nurse practitioner or PA in the state of Kentucky with a medical license can order this test for appropriate patients.

Candidates may be determined based on the guidelines in this flyer.

The provider can fax the order and choose between: 

  • Family history of coronary disease 
  • Or, multiple risk factors for coronary artery disease

 Orders should be faxed to UofL Hospital’s Department of Radiology at 502-562-3172. Then the patient can schedule the test by calling 502-562-3187.