Love Your Heart
Cardiovascular disease is a wide-ranging problem. "It's the rusting of our arteries," explains renowned surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz. "Literally, the tubes that carry nourishment to our different organs are rotting from the inside. And that's not just about dying from heart attacks and strokes. It's about kidney failure and loss of quality of life." What does Oprah's CT scan reveal about her heart health?
Though CT scanners have been around for years, the new 64-slice CT scanner's technology actually allows doctors and patients to watch a heart beating. "If you think about it, the CAT scan takes a picture. If it's your gallbladder, it just sits there and waits for the photo shoot," Dr. Oz says. But to really capture what is happening with a heart, "You need a scanner that can take pictures so fast it can catch the heart in a beat. These new scanners can take almost 200 pictures a second so they can get your heart at so many different angles that you capture it."
Before the invention of this new CT scanner, Dr. Oz says, doctors relied on calcium scores to determine hardening of the arteries. However, this was a highly inexact science. "What makes this technology so cool," Dr. Oz says, "is you can actually go beyond calcium which is just a symptom."
Curious about the state of her heart, Oprah decided to get one of these heart scans. What does Dr. Andrew Rosenson, who performed her scan, think of Oprah's heart?
"Your heart is perfect," Dr. Andy says. "You have the heart of a 19-year-old." What does a heart with constricted arteries look like?
"The heart that's dependent on that blood supply is dying. It may be dying slowly or quickly," Dr. Oz says. "The first time they know they're having a heart problem is when they're having the big one."
You shouldn't just be worried about your arteries just to avoid "the big one"...a massive heart attack. "It's intertwined," Dr. Oz explains. "By the time you have blockages of the arteries of the heart, you also have blockages in your brain, your kidneys and all the other organs. The whole package comes together."
Take a look at a real cheating heart
"This huge vessel has a fistula. It pretends it's pumping blood," Dr. Oz says. "The reason this vessel is so large and serpentine is that it's actually dumping blood into the heart without giving it the nourishment that it needs. Sometimes kids and young adults have this problem, and it can cause chest pain." What is collateral supply?
"Both of my parents died of heart disease," Gayle says. "My mom was 61 and my dad was 47 [when they died]. And I'm 50, so it's weird to me that I've already outlived my father. I was very, very nervous." What were the results of Gayle's heart scan?
Dr. Jacobs explains that Gayle has very tiny amounts of small plaque, but that they are not much of a threat. "I'm very happy that everything looks good," Dr. Jacobs says.
It's normal to feel nervous, but not okay to forgo this vital checkup. "Don't be one of those crazy people who doesn't want the information," Oprah says.
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"It's about empowerment," Dr. Oz agrees. "The whole process [is about] getting people to understand what's happening inside of them. But I've got one word of caution. As beautiful as the scan is, remember it's a snapshot. It's telling you what's happening today in your life."
"It's not just the heart," Dr. Oz explains. "You rust the arteries to the brain and the kidney. So that statistic means one of the two of you, odds are, will die of kidney failure, stroke or heart attack. There's a common cause: our modern lifestyle."
But there's always hope for turning things around. Dr. Oz has a simple suggestion. "Exercise to build heart health. What does that mean? That means we have to break a sweat 60 minutes a week. That's not a lot to ask."
Strengthen your heart and extend your life!