Recently I have been involved with some tennis coaching with our own in house coach, Walter Meyer. What I have come to learn about Walter is that he is helping me overcome some of the deficiencies in my tennis game (which are many), but he is also seriously interested in our well being. As I have been saying for a long time now that Toowong Tennis Old Dogs is not just about tennis, but is also taking into consideration other very important issues such as health and social interaction that is critical in our drive to be part of a group of people committed to Active Aging. (I think that is a great term for what we are about.)
Now, in my first session with Walter, he stressed to me that it is important to him, that he teaches us how to play better tennis, but more importantly how to eliminate injuries. He ensures that you learn certain important points such as:
positioning your feet correctly in making the shot
using your body more not just your arms
slowing down your movement and not racing at the ball
keep on your toes and be moving so you can react faster.
But overall, he is monitoring us on the ball machine to ensure we are taking the breaks when we need to.
Now Walter is a perfect example for us all. He is into his 80's and very active and is not slowing down, life is still in front of him not just behind. But he has also pushed his views on certain health issues that we all should be testing ourselves on. He believes that the most important test we all should be having from our doctors is having a Coronary Calcium Score done. Walter told me a story of how he pushed his own tennis group members in having this test done, and one of his members came back to him a few months later and said to Walter "You saved my life, thank you." So ever since Walter has been pushing this test for his tennis mates.
We have our own stories to tell from our members. The one just recently was a person who came back to tennis after the Christmas break and just in the warm-up period complained of chest pains. He had no history of heart issues and was on no medication. However, a few days later, went into hospital by ambulance and they immediately did tests to reveal that one vessel of the heart was occluded to 90%. He immediately had a stent put in and has returned to tennis. Now I would say to you all, how many of us could be in the same position. I have had this test a couple of years back and probably need to do it again.
There is a lot of information but check out this article from the Mayo Clinic in America. I quote what they say as an overview of the test.
"A heart scan, also known as a coronary calcium scan, is a specialized X-ray test that provides pictures of your heart that can help your doctor detect and measure calcium-containing plaque in your arteries.
The plaque inside the arteries of your heart can grow and restrict blood flow to the muscles of your heart. Measuring calcified plaque with a heart scan may allow your doctor to identify possible coronary artery disease before you have signs and symptoms.
Your doctor will use your test results to determine what you need — medication or lifestyle changes — to reduce your risk of a heart attack or other heart problems."
Prevention is better than having the Triple Bypass Surgery when lifestyle changes and stents are all too late to be done. We have had a number of members who have required this surgery and I am sure that they would all say that going through that was not the best of experiences. But leaving things to that stage is very dangerous. Once done the test, you will get the type of result below that will inform you of your risk of having a heart attack. So much better to be aware and not waiting for the dangerous signs and having the heart attack from which you have to survive. That is like playing Russian Roulette with your life.
The result of the test is usually given as a number called an Agatston score. The score reflects the total area of calcium deposits and the density of the calcium.
A score of zero means no calcium is seen in the heart. It suggests a low chance of developing a heart attack in the future.
When calcium is present, the higher the score, the higher your risk of heart disease.
A score of 100 to 300 means moderate plaque deposits. It's associated with a relatively high risk of a heart attack or other heart disease over the next three to five years.
A score greater than 300 is a sign of very high to severe disease and heart attack risk.
You also may receive a percentile score, which indicates your amount of calcium compared to people of the same age and sex.
Thank you Walter for pushing your views on this very important issue. I am sure and hope that many of the members will take heed and get the test done.