Wake-up call

Greg O'Connor looks at a printout of his heart scan inside the radiology department of Riverview Hospital. (Photo by Robert Herrington)

Greg O’Connor looks at a printout of his heart scan inside the radiology department of Riverview Hospital. (Photo by Robert Herrington)

Riverview Hospital’s new cardiovascular equipment is saving lives like Noblesville resident Greg O’Connor’s

A chance opportunity helped save the life of Noblesville resident Greg O’Connor. The Noblesville Common Council member also serves as the Riverview Hospital Foundation board chairman, which is why he decided to have a heart scan done with the hospital’s new 128-slice CT scanner even though he felt fine.

“Since I was on the foundation board, I thought I should know about this if we are trying to promote it,” he said. “They place three electrodes on your chest, run you in and out of the magnet three times and your images appear on the screen. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes.”

While he was in the waiting area for his results, O’Connor learned his calcium level numbers were “not quite where they should be.”

“For a lot of people it’s 0 to 50 or 100, mine were north of 500. It was like warning signs and lights were going off,” he said.

While O’Connor did not need immediate surgery, he sought further evaluation from his family physician and cardiovascular specialists.

“It’s not something you want to take a chance on,” he said.

After having two stress tests done and another scan of his heart with radioactive dye, it was determined that O’Connor did not have any blockages in his arteries, but his high score meant there was the potential for damage.

“There was some damage with the level of calcium in the veins,” O’Connor, said, adding that he knew he was borderline diabetic, had elevated blood pressure and that he was overweight at 260 pounds at the time of the test.

“I knew all of that, but we’re busy with committees, work meetings, city council. It didn’t fall on deaf ears, but you don’t make it a priority.”

O’Connor said that following his tests and results, he made a conscious decision to eat healthier, work out, lift weights and strengthen his core muscles. In the year following his commitment, O’Connor lost 50 pounds, decreased his blood pressure from 140 over 90 to 110 over 80, and lowered his blood sugar levels back to normal.

Riverview Hospital Foundation Board Chairman Greg O'Connor and Executive Director Trish Oman pause at the 128-slice CT scanner. (Photo by Robert Herrington)

Riverview Hospital Foundation Board Chairman Greg O’Connor and Executive Director Trish Oman pause at the 128-slice CT scanner. (Photo by Robert Herrington)

“Everything’s back in the normal ranges,” he said. “I dealt with the situation before it became a real serious event … I’m a walking testament that once you get on that path you can’t stray too far off. It was a wake-up call for my life.”

Riverview Foundation Executive Director Trish Oman said the 128-slice CT scanner had been lifesaving.

“We’ve had people come in and there have been things that they were able to detect not otherwise detectable because they had the scan done,” she said.

There have been occasions when patients go straight from the 128-slice CT scanner to open heart surgery, Oman said.

“One guy had a scan because he just got on Medicare and was advised to get a test. After the test, he got in his car and headed home. Doctors called him and told him to turn around and get back here. He had an aneurism,” she said. “It’s a wake-up call for a lot of people.”

The CT scanner is revolutionizing non-invasive diagnosis. The machine can scan the whole body in seconds and provide incredibly sharp 3-D images of any organ. The new technology provides the first clear, non-invasive images of the heart and its major vessels. It delivers non-superimposed, cross-sectional images of the body, which can show smaller contrast differences than conventional X-ray images. The scans can also be timed to use only images gathered between contractions, so the heart and its vessels can be seen without the blurring caused by motion.

“Doctors can see things on lungs, kidneys,” Oman said. “It’s used for injuries, accidents and cancer detection.”

Oman said the foundation purchased the CT scanner in October 2010 and the digital imaging catheterization lab in May 2008. The new technology combines the two to better serve doctors and patients.

“There isn’t another hospital that has that combination in Indiana,” Oman said.

Riverview Foundation Red Ball

When: Feb. 9

Time: 5:45 p.m. welcome reception with dinner at 7 p.m.

Where: Lucas Estate, 1142 W. 106th St., Carmel

Cost: $150 per person, $2,000 for a corporate table

Why: The ball, with presenting sponsor BMO Harris Bank, is a special celebration of the Riverview Hospital cardiovascular program. It will include “Heartfelt” remarks by five Riverview patients, dancing, tours of the Lucas Estate and fundraising for the Riverview Hospital Foundation, which has secured more than $4 million in donations for cardiology since its inception.

For more information, contact Trish Oman at 776-7317 or toman@riverview.org.

Robert Herrington

Managing editor of Current in Noblesville. A 1999 graduate of Noblesville High School, Herrington has been covering Noblesville and Hamilton County as a journalist since 2004. The military brat lived all over the east coast before calling Noblesville home since 1994. He and his wife, Maggie, live in the community with their baby daughter (and youngest Boston Red Sox fan), Caroline. From school board to common council meetings, First Friday events and summer concerts in the city parks, Herrington loves to attend and cover all that Noblesville has to offer.

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