"It really takes you back a step when you think you are doing all of the right things," Russ Daniel explains.
Daniel has always thought of himself as in shape and relatively healthy. At 58 years old, he maintains a good diet, gets regular check-ups and walks five to six days a week.
"One particular day, I was walking and I had a very weird feeling like bursitis or something. I had an achy feeling in my arm when I was finished," Daniel recalls.
"In his case, he was exercising and he felt very sweaty, felt a little weak, just didn't feel well," says St. Vincent cardiologist Doug Borg. "This persisted for several hours and then kind of went away. He had felt well otherwise. So, really we were kind of like that doesn't sound like your heart, but certainly it could be."
As a precaution cardiologist Dr. Borg recommended a cardiac CT.
The test, which is less invasive and less expensive than an angiogram, can detect blockages in the coronary arteries.
"It is different from a stress test in that a stress test gives you a black or while yes or no answer. Do you have blockage," says Dr. Borg. "It doesn't tell you about some of the other aspects of your heart in which you may have some blockage that isn't causing you symptoms but is a problem that can be modified through medication, through dietary changes."
In Daniel's case, the CT showed blockage in a main artery of his heart, as well as minor blockage in a few smaller vessels.
"It should be more like this or more like this when in fact, this is so severely blocked that it is probably 90-percent plus," says Dr. Borg.
"Yes, it was surprising to have that particular blockage and that much blockage which was almost 90-percent," says Daniel. "I would have probably had a heart attack within 12 months."
Dr. Borg was successfully able to open the artery with a stent procedure. The blood flow to that area of the heart is excellent now.
"There was tightness there," says Daniel. "My chest just feels cleaner and much easier to breathe."
Daniel was back at work two days after the procedure. He's thankful he knew the warning signs and listened to his body.
Because an x-ray machine is used, cardiac CT involves radiation. The amount of radiation used though is considered small, similar to the amount you're naturally exposed to over 1-5 years.