Think a stress test and a simple blood workup are all you need to assess your heart attack risk? Wrong.
Will Your Insurance Pay?
Compared with the $760,000 it costs to treat a single heart attack patient, these tests are cheap–but some insurers won’t pay for them. “The system rewards doctors who do bypasses but doesn’t pay for prevention,” says Arthur Agatston, MD. Many companies are coming around: Most will pay for the stress EKG, blood glucose, and advanced cholesterol tests. Some will cover the gene tests and CIMT. Cardiac calcium scoring usually isn’t covered. Call your carrier beforehand to find out what it will pay for and what your co-payment will be.
Prevention Pioneer: Arthur Agatston, MD
A preventive cardiologist and Prevention advisory board member, Dr. Agatston passionately believes that the right combination of diet, exercise, medication, and advanced tests can wipe out heart disease–and he’s proving it: Of the 2,500 patients he sees in his Miami clinic each year, only one or two have heart attacks.
“One of the best-kept secrets in cardiology,” he says, “is that doctors using cutting-edge prevention have stopped seeing heart attacks in their patients.”
It was Dr. Agatston and Warren Janowitz, MD, who developed the first CT scan heart screening–the cardiac calcium scoring test–in the 1980s. “At first, it was a constant battle to educate physicians that the standard of care needed to change,” Dr. Agatston says. But now, because of his work, patients everywhere can get this test.
Not content to stop there, he continues to develop treatments to prevent heart attacks. “This disease,” he repeats emphatically, “does not need to exist.”