Beaumont Health screening first responders to prevent heart attacks

Dr. Trivax hopes to expand Hearts for Heroes program nationally

The Hearts for Heroes program is designed to help prevent heart attack deaths among police, firefighters and other first responders, according to Royal Oak-based Beaumont Health.

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – How much would you pay for a medical test that could tell you in about three minutes whether you have serious heart trouble?

A specialized test costs about $100, which may seem like a bargain, but few get it because insurance doesn’t cover it. That’s where Hearts for Heroes, a new charitable effort through Beaumont Health, is making a huge difference.

Over the past several months, first responders in Farmington Hills have been filing in, one at a time, into a medical office building for the specialized test that might save their life.

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The Hearts for Heroes program is designed to help prevent heart attack deaths among police, firefighters and other first responders. Firefighter Dennis Fiment stretched out on an MRI machine to get his calcium scan. Within five minutes, he found out he was heart healthy.

Firefighter George Baker wasn’t so lucky.

“It measures the cholesterol in your arteries and I thought I had no problems,” Baker recalled. “But as soon as I got the test back, the results were quite surprising.”

Baker, a veteran of 30 stress tests, discovered two of his heart arteries were 80% blocked. He had bypass surgery and is retiring from firefighting.

“I probably would have died on the job,” Baker said.

That’s the driving force behind Hearts for Heroes. About a year ago, Dr. Justin Trivax and his daughters watched a news story about a firefighter who suffered a heart attack and died on the job. So the interventional cardiologist decided he would start donating his testing equipment and time.

“If they have any coronary artery plaque, they are at much higher risk than their colleagues who do not,” Trivax said. “If they do, they can start treatment that reduces their risk dramatically.”

“I’m just grateful for the test,” Baker said. “And I hope everybody else gets on because it’s so informative and so easy.”

The Farmington Hills Police and Fire Benevolent Association was so impressed with Trivax, they donated $5,000 to him to continue doing the screening. Trivax said he hopes to expand to other communities to bring in their first responders. He said the goal is to take Hearts for Heroes nationally.

More information on the test can be found on Beautmont Health’s official website here.

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About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.