Texas today, tomorrow . . . the world?

Texas state representative, Rene Oliveira, has introduced legislation that mandates heart scans for adults in the state of Texas.

Rep. Oliveira

A press release from the SHAPE Society ( Society for Heart Attack Prevention and Eradication) reads:

Assessment of heart attack risk on the basis of traditional risk factors alone such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure and so forth, while useful, misses many who are at high risk and also incorrectly flags some for high risk who are in fact at very low risk of near term heart attack; on the other hand detection of atherosclerosis by non-invasive imaging, as suggested by the SHAPE group, accurately identifies plaque and improves the ability to identify at-risk individuals who could benefit from aggressive preventive intervention while sparing low-risk subjects from unnecessary aggressive medical therapy," said Dr. P.K. Shah, Director of Cardiology at Cedars Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, a leading member of the SHAPE Task Force who is also an active member of the American Heart Association. "Sadly, these vulnerable patients go undetected until struck by a heart attack, because insurance companies don't cover the newer heart attack screening imaging tests."

Rep. Oliveira, whose coronary disease was first uncovered by a heart scan and prompted a bypass operation, states:

"It is about time that we cover preventive screening for the number one killer in Texas, and take action to reduce healthcare costs through preventive healthcare. Right now, we are extending the lives of those who can afford the procedure while hundreds of thousands of Texans with hidden heart disease go undetected because of antiquated thinking. The time has come for this change."

Is this what we've come to? Since practicing physicians are either so entranced by the drug and procedural solutions to heart disease, do we need to resort to heart scan by legislation?

It does indeed appear that we've come to this point. Should this trend catch on, it will surely mean an upfront increase in healthcare costs to cover the expense of heart scans. But in the long run, it will mean reduction in healthcare costs--dramatic reduction--if heart scans prompt effective preventive action.