I usually don’t post my picture online, but today I’m making an exception. Even though I’m not the photographer, I’m not worrying about any type of copyright infringement, because I will soon be billed $13 for the CD, it’s such a nice pose of me, and the CD’s cover art sucked anyway. I plan to go to my primary care physician’s office to get their interpretation of this and the many other pictures of my heart. I do know that the bright white in the heart area is calcium, but I only see it in this particular slide. I recently did well on a bone density test, where a good amount of daily calcium is applauded. Not so with the arteries.

When I got the pictures and the report in the mail the day after my scan, I was impressed. I was also impressed with my score of 17. The range of 11-99 was described as moderate risk for a coronary event (4% in the next 5 years). So I’m feeling pretty smug with my low 17. I saw I was in the 79th  percentile. High percentile is good when you take standardized tests, and 79 was on the high end, so I continued my celebration.

But then I went online and found out what the percentile means. It takes your age, gender, and race into consideration, and 79% of white women my age have a score of 0 or lower. Who are these bitches? I hate you! Zero? It’s like having a Size 0. How can you guys have nothing building up in your arteries? I see you. I see what you eat. I eat better than you.

Then I’m thinking about the commercial with the woman at the beach with her extended family, saying that while she was building her life, plaque was building in her arteries. Well, I was building a life for 25 plus years with someone and it fell apart. At least my arteries are showing some results of my efforts. While she breezily talks of how the pharmaceutical company is making her romantic walk along the surf with her  gray-at-the-temples hubby possible, I’m not so trusting. I’m opting for fish oil, red yeast rice, and further improvements in diet and exercise.

But then there’s my problem of my good cholesterol production being hindered by the low-cholesterol diet. That happened long ago when I was in my 20’s, so who knows for sure what caused the low HDL. Maybe my 58-year-old metabolism would make that different.

So I’ll let my daughter finish the Bojangles fried chicken while I limit myself mostly to good, real food that I know is recommended for heart health. I’ll get a physician’s opinion, but for now I’m keeping my prescription card in my wallet.

I recommend the test if you need to know what’s going on in those arteries and your insurance company will pay for the bulk of it. I paid $212 out of pocket. If it weren’t for the scan, I would have gone on believing that my high HDL was saving the day. I wouldn’t take medication just because of an overall high cholesterol score, and now that I know I do indeed have Coronary Artery Disease, I still won’t unless nothing else works. I’m going to get my cholesterol tested regularly the next couple of years and see if I can get another CT scan then. There is some exposure to radiation, but, for me, I felt the risk of not knowing what was happening in my arteries outweighed its risk. The scan is fast and non-confining. I didn’t need any medication for it.

The worst part was giving up caffeine for 24 hours before the test. Other than that, it was a piece of cake tofu.

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