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A Coronary CT Saved My Life

Rich Bannen is a man with a generous heart, who has dedicated his life to helping others. He’s a veteran and a caregiver for his family. He’s been a first responder since 1973 and is the one and only “Crawford County First Responder” who serves on four local volunteer EMR squads – Bridgeport/Prairie du Chien, Eastman, Seneca, and Steuben. He’s an entrepreneur who established a solar energy company and a welding business. He became a welding instructor and shared his love for the creativity of the trade with students at a local technical college. He has a love for horses and served as the Ranch Manager at the Children’s Ranch in Prairie du Chien for a couple of years.

As far as Rich’s health is concerned, he’s an active man who maintains an overall healthy diet.

“I stick to the Mediterranean diet most of the time – a diet that research has shown reduces the risk of heart disease. Five years ago, I underwent a nuclear stress test and they said my arteries were clean as a whistle at that time.”

Today, Rich is a survivor. On Friday, March 22, he woke up as he normally does at 5:30 a.m., but, on this day, he didn’t feel like his usual self.

“I had been uncomfortable all night with chest discomfort, similar to heartburn. I felt dizzy, nauseated, and thought I was going pass out. I knew something wasn’t right, so I asked my wife to take me to the emergency department at Crossing Rivers Health.”

When Rich arrived at the emergency department, he shared his symptoms with the staff. They performed an EKG and ran some bloodwork. All of the tests came back negative. Instead of releasing Rich, the emergency department staff suggested that he undergo a Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography (CCTA), a new test available at Crossing Rivers Health that can detect blockages in the coronary arteries.

For CCTAs, a score over 400 may require further testing. Rich’s score was 829.29.

“The doctor said that I had to be transported to Meriter Hospital in Madison immediately. Once I arrived there, they didn’t waste any time and began prepping me for open heart surgery. I had a stint put in Friday night and five more on Monday. My Left Anterior Descending artery – also known as the LAD or Widow Maker – was 90% blocked. We never would have seen that without the CCTA. I wouldn’t be alive today if I didn’t have the CCTA.”

Rich was discharged the following Tuesday and, today, he feels like a new man.

“The CCTA saved my life – that’s the bottom line. If they would have discharged me based on the results from the EKG and the bloodwork, I wouldn’t be here. The Meriter staff told me that if I wouldn’t have had that test done, I wouldn’t have made it through the weekend.”

Rich is currently working with the Cardiac Rehabilitation team at Crossing Rivers Health.

“It’s going great. I come here in the morning a couple of days a week to work with Pat Stovey and then I am able to do other things in the afternoon. It’s not a huge commitment and is a good start to my day.”

The whole experience has been quite an emotional roller coaster – even for a pretty tough guy like Rich. He can’t express the importance of preventative care enough. He encourages people to take care of themselves, to listen to healthcare providers, and listen to their body.

"I came to the emergency department that Friday because I felt like something wasn’t right. As an EMT, we often get calls when it’s too late. I was very fortunate we have the CCTA is available at Crossing Rivers Health. It saved my life.”

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