Cardiac Screening Saves Farmer’s Life

Bob Vogel is a hard-working farmer. He’s 55 and a diabetic who, as his wife Mary says, doesn’t always pay the best attention to doctors’ advice. But last winter Bob was feeling especially runCalcium Cardiac Screening for Heart Disease Saves Life of Farmer Vogel down. He avoided any long walks and found himself getting out of breath when doing farm chores.

Mary says her husband was reluctant to seek treatment. “He has this, ‘Oh there’s nothing wrong with me,’ mentality.” But she convinced him to mention the fatigue and breathing troubles to his family doctor.

Dr. Luke Warpinski, an Aurora BayCare family medicine physician, advised Bob to get a cardiac screening. The simple calcium scoring test is available to anyone, without referral, for just $50.

“If he wouldn’t have asked for that test, my husband would be dead right now,” says Mary. “That test saved his life.”

When Bob’s results showed high risk, he was sent for further evaluation. Additional tests revealed that he’d probably already had four heart attacks. The ultimate verdict: Bob needed a triple bypass, performed by cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Alexander Roitstein.

“We didn’t know about the earlier heart attacks,” Mary says. “If something felt off, he’d just figure he’d pulled a muscle or something and go in the house to lie down.”

Bob spent six days in the hospital after surgery and then came back several times a week for cardiac rehab. Mary gives his rehab team a lot of credit for “pushing” Bob through all the therapy and follow-up care. “He’s not the most cooperative. We always apologized to the nurses when they came in,” she laughs, “but we couldn’t have asked for a better group of people.”

Today Bob has an insertable cardiac monitor (ICM) in his chest to track any cardiac arrhythmias. Plus, Bob carries a small push-button he can place over the ICM when he feels like his heart is racing or fluttering, giving doctors more targeted information to monitor and treat his heart health. 

Bob’s story illustrates the life-saving benefit of one simple, affordable heart screen and reveals the importance of talking to your doctor about fatigue and other health issues. They could be subtle warning signs of a bigger, looming heart problem.