Livonia dad says $70 test helped save his life

Doctors say more people should consider having it, too

LIVONIA, Mich. – It was January of 2012 when Jim Saucedo of Livonia noticed a strange feeling in his chest.

"I had this heavy feeling in my chest area, didn't really know what it was, kept me up at night sometimes," said Saucedo. "A little scary, but I didn't really mention it to my wife because I didn't want to worry her."

He went to his doctor, who wasn't overly concerned. He said it could be muscular, or acid reflux.

"I had physicals every year. I had just had a physical in October. Full blood work. Everything checked out well."

But the feeling didn't go away, and Saucedo was becoming more concerned.

"I definitely need some help here. There's something going on that I need help."

He found that help in a surprising place -- the newspaper.

"I'm in my office one day, and I'm reading the paper and I see these ads for the heart and vascular screening," said Saucedo. "I thought, 'For 70 bucks, let me call up and make an appointment.'"

It was a decision that would save his life.


The test Saucedo had was really seven tests, offered by Beaumont Hospital for just $70.

The Beaumont Heart & Vascular Screening includes blood pressure, body mass index, blood tests for cholesterol and A1c levels, an EKG, carotid artery ultrasound, abdominal aortic aneurysm ultrasound, and screening for peripheral artery disease.

"I got my results, and there was an abnormality in the EKG portion of it," said Saucedo.

Further tests revealed a 100 percent blockage in two of his arteries and over a 90 percent blockage in two others. He was on the brink of suffering a heart attack. The news was stunning and frightening.

"Scared, just very scared," remembered Saucedo. "I have a young family. I have two boys, Jacob and Luke, my wife, I have a business."

Doctors recommended open heart surgery. Saucedo agreed and wanted to have it immediately, but doctors said he needed to wait ten days for the blood thinners he was taking to pass out of his system.

"The waiting in between, the ten days, that was very hard to know that I'm about to have quadruple bypass surgery," said Saucedo.

He would later need two stents inserted as well. Saucedo admits the recovery has been hard, physically and emotionally, but he knows, he's one of the lucky ones.

"A few of the cardiologists that I've met through this process said, 'Look, you probably would not have survived a heart attack. It would have been massive,'" said Saucedo.

"More and more often, we're seeing patients who just came in for this routine test and ended up finding something that was life-threatening or at least required some type of intervention," said Dr. Marc Sakwa, Saucedo's surgeon and the chief of cardiovascular surgery at Beaumont Hospital.

Sakwa believes the heart and vascular screening is something many more people should consider.

"If you have a family history of heart disease, if you have diabetes, maybe a history of smoking, people who are over age 60, 65," said Sakwa. "The '7 for 70' test is really designed for anybody who just wants to have a little bit of reassurance that they don't have any serious cardiac problem."

No one knows why Saucedo had such advanced disease at such a young age. He didn't have an usual family history of heart disease.

Saucedo still has the receipt for the $70 test that saved his life.

"It was the best $70 I've spent," said Saucedo. "If I wouldn't have taken the heart and vascular screening, if I wouldn't have taken step one, who knows. Who knows what could have happened, who knows when it could have happened, who knows where I could have been."

He has a message for everyone who thinks they are too young for heart disease.

"Don't think you're invincible, don't think '41, it can't happen.' It can," said Saucedo. "Heart disease does not discriminate. It's the No. 1 killer for a reason. It's out there."

Saucedo says the experience has given him a new appreciation for life and his family. He's now coaching his sons' baseball teams and enjoying the everyday moments a little more.

"It's been two years. Two years that have been the best two years. I feel that I got another chance," said Saucedo. "To be able to savor things with my family has been, probably the best gift that I've been given."

Saucedo and a team of his family and friends will be participating in this year's Heart Walk to help raise awareness and money for heart disease research. The Metro Detroit walk is Saturday, May 3rd at Ford Field and the Washtenaw County walk is on May 10th at Eastern Michigan University's student center. For more information about both walks, click here.

To find out more about the "7 for $70" Beaumont Heart & Vascular Screening, click here.