SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — A screening can be a life-saving checkup for people who are at risk of heart disease. A well-known member of the Sioux Falls community is raising awareness by taking us along for his own screening.

Medical experts recommend men start heart screenings at 40 and women at 45. It’s even more important to get a screening if you’re a smoker or have a family history of heart disease. One patient, who works at Sioux Falls City Hall, decided it was time for another screening at the urging of someone who faced their own health scare.

The staff at Avera North Central Heart put Mayor Paul TenHaken through the paces of an extensive checkup of his heart health. First, an ultra-sound to check his blood flow.

“While we’re doing that, we’re checking his blood pressure on his ankles and his arms and then we’re drawing some blood. With blood, we’re getting our cholesterol levels and then we’re also getting our blood-sugar as well,” Avera North Central Nurse Adam VandeKamp said.

Then it’s onto a CT scan to detect any potential blockages.

“We can’t see it into your vessels there, but we can see if there’s plaque either outside of the wall or inside the wall and that gives us a number where we can put you in into a risk factor,” VandeKamp said.

It’s been five years since TenHaken’s last heart screening.

“And honestly, I kind of had forgotten about it and ran into someone in our community who nearly died from calcification in his heart and it’s kind of his mission to tell everybody, like you gotta go get your heart checked,” TenHaken said.

The nurse sat down with TenHaken to go over the results of the screening.

“My blood pressure’s a little high, which kind of varies based on the day of the week and the issue at hand that I’m dealing with,” TenHaken said.

The consultation also included recommendations for a heart-healthy diet that includes nuts and fish.

“I don’t see Diet Mountain Dew on this list. Is this a typo?” TenHaken jokingly asked.

Exercise is another key to preventing heart disease. TenHaken says he works out six days a week. But a heart screening can give even the healthiest of patients peace of mind.

“The costs to getting a heart screening is so minimal. It’s your most important important organ in your body, it’s worth 45-minutes of your day to come get your heart checked,” TenHaken said.

TenHaken says another motivating factor for getting a heart screening was the cardiac arrest suffered by Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin during an NFL playoff game last month.
He says Hamlin’s health scare was a wake-up call for everyone.