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Tuesday, May 06 2014 12:00 PM

'First Look': Cardiologist highlights benefits of coronary calcium scan

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    Cardiologist Dr. Brij Bhambi, left, and Californian President and CEO Richard Beene discuss heart tests on "First Look with Scott Cox."

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A coronary calcium scan is a test that looks for calcium in the walls of heart arteries. If a high percentage of calcium is found, you're more prone to a heart attack because the calcium can cause artery blockage.

Tuesday on "First Look with Scott Cox," Californian president and CEO Richard Beene discussed his recent calcium test results.

Joining Beene was Dr. Brij Bhambi, a cardiologist at Bakersfield Heart Hospital, who detailed what the test finds. When specks of calcium are found in coronary arteries, plaque builds up in the arteries and over time, that plaque hardens, he said. That plaque reduces blood flow to the heart and it narrows the arteries.

"You want your score to be a zero," Bhambi said. "The bigger the score, the more likelihood of having a heart attack."

Beene scored a 19 and Bhambi said his number was better than most people his age. Beene was surprised to learn his calcium number will most likely never decrease.

But the cardiologist said it would remain steady as long as Beene continues to live a healthy lifestyle.

"Once you have it, it can't decrease, but it can progress, something you don't want to do," he said.

Bhambi said his calcium score is a four.

Bhambi said his diet consists of vegetables, fish -- specifically salmon -- fruits, whole grains and of course exercise.

Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week is all that is needed, he added.

Beene also talked to Bhambi about the recent drop in heart bypass surgeries.

"It's a success story," the doctor said.

While he used to perform about 1,000 bypass surgeries a year, Bhambi now only does 400 to 500.

"Statins are the number one reason for surgeries going down in Kern County as a whole," he said.

Although the county remains the worst for obesity and cardiovascular disease, the simple baby aspirin people are taking to reduce cholesterol is helping.

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