CT Scanner Identifies Rare Heart Condition

Clara Simones has a special claim to the phrase “home is where the heart is.” With the exception of one trip to the Front Range, she has received all of her cardiac-related care here in the Yampa Valley.


Clara, who lives 20 miles west of Craig in the small community of Lay, awoke one night in January 2011 with chest discomfort and inability to take a deep breath. When she noticed an irregular heartbeat the next day she went to see her primary physician in Craig and had a nuclear stress test at The Memorial Hospital.


Cardiologist Dr. Will Baker reviewed the results and recommended a cardiac CT scan at Yampa Valley Medical Center to better define the abnormality suggested by the treadmill test.


The new scanner, which Dr. Baker describes as the “latest generation, ultra-fast multi-detector,” was purchased in 2010 with the help of a community fund drive led by the Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley. It provides extremely accurate pictures of blood vessels and other structures of the heart.


“The CT scan suggested a possible problem with Clara’s coronary arteries but revealed a definite congenital abnormality that is very unusual,” Dr. Baker said. “This would not likely have been detected by other types of testing.”


“I was hospitalized at YVMC overnight, then went to Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland for a cardiac catheterization,” Clara said. “It came back clean, showing that my vessels are perfect.”


“She is fortunate that she can be treated with medical therapy and does not require any cardiac surgery at this time,” Dr. Baker said.


“Nobody had ever seen this type of defect before, but I’ve had it my whole life,” Clara said. “Now I’m very aware of my blood pressure and heart rate and I continue to get regular checkups in Craig. It’s good for our community that both hospitals and all the doctors work together as one to let patients have the choice and to provide a continuum of care.”