I'll call the doctor when I feel bad!

Max just had his heart scan. He sat down with the x-ray technologist at the work console while she pointed out the white areas in his coronary arteries that represented plaque.

"It looks like you're going to have a fairly high score," the technologist commented. "The final report will be available after one of our cardiologists reviews your images."

Max shrugged. "Well, I don't feel anything. I'm always running around with work, with my kids, stuff like that. That's better than any stress test. I guess I'll worry about it if it starts to bother me."

You'd be surprised how common this view remains: If it's not bothering you, then just forget about it. It's easy to do, since you have no symptoms, nothing to impair your physical activities. But what are the potential consequences of ignoring your heart scan? Here's a few:

--Prevention and plaque reversal efforts are most effective the earlier you start. From a heart scan score viewpoint, the lower your starting score, the easier it is to gain control over it. More people will succeed in reducing their score when the starting score is lower.

--The role of prevention of heart disease instantly crystallizes when you know your score. Your LDL cholesterol of 142 mg/dl or HDL of 41 mg/dl no longer seem like just numbers of borderline signficance. Instead, they become useful tools to gain control over plaque. They cast your numbers in a new and clear light.

--Knowing your heart scan score today gives you a basis for comparison in future. Your score of, say 250, today, can be 220 in one year. Without your preventive efforts, it will be 30% higher: 325. That's a big difference!

--Sudden death or heart attack--can occur in up to 35-40% of people with hidden heart disease--without warning.

Don't even bother getting a heart scan if you're going to ignore it. I've said it before and I'll say it again: A heart scan is the most important health test you can get--but only if you do something about it.