The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be behind us now after three years with 1.1 million deaths, 6.1 million hospitalizations and an economic toll of $14 trillion.
The most important lesson learned - we can achieve amazing things when we put our minds, hearts and resources to work.
It is time to reassess our approach to an ongoing epidemic for many decades in the US and many developed countries - the largely preventable first heart attacks due to atherosclerosis. Over 600,000 victims in the US alone per year - 3 million in 5 years. The total economic burden of heart attacks is .
Unlike the Cancer Moonshot Initiative of President Biden, a Heart Attack Moonshot is already orbiting the moon. What it needs is land. Why is it not able to land?
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words. A Video even More.
I want to choose one picture that captures best what a heart attack is - this is the one because it clearly shows the three components needed to have a heart attack: (1) a plaque, (2) a tear in the surface of the plaque causing plaque rupture, and (3) a clot that stops the blood flowing to the heart muscle.
I am thankful for the people and their families featured in The Widowmaker documentary film who willingly shared their own stories to spare others from suffering the same fate.
Here is a short video excerpt (with permission from the producers of The Widowmaker):
Margaret, John and Melinda want to share their stories that others may be spared,
While coronary artery disease is silent for a long time, its presence can be easily and inexpensively (about $100) detected by coronary calcium scoring test years before your heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest. After its detection, an effective medical treatment can be prescribed by your primary care physician or your cardiologist to stop its progression and prevent a heart attack, and avoid the future need to have stents and heart bypass surgery. Also, the same treatment that prevents heart attack prevents stroke.
Coronary calcium scoring test was approved, endorsed and recommended by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology over a decade ago but access to it has been blocked by lack of awareness by the general public and insurance denial. In Texas, all health insurance companies are mandated by the Texas Heart Attack Prevention Bill to pay for this test.
Our primary objective is to spread the correct information about coronary calcium scoring test and to stop denial of services by all insurance companies. Consider coronary calcium scoring test as "mammography" for the heart but unlike regular routine mammography, it is done only once or twice during a lifetime. The secondary objective is to provide reliable
information on what to do next if your calcium score is zero, 100 or 1,000.