HealthWave's Drs. Michael Eades and Mary Dan Eades.

Paul Wellman

HealthWave's Drs. Michael Eades and Mary Dan Eades.

Scanned for Life

Getting My Coronary Calcium Score with HealthWave’s Body Scan

Sunday, December 23, 2012
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No matter how healthy you think you are, your knees will knock a little bit on the day your heart gets scanned for possible blockage. But coming from a family with a history of heart attacks, living a fairly fast but deadline-stressed life, and already dinged by a doc for having elevated triglycerides, I was especially nervous to visit the new HealthWave facility on upper State Street, where my coronary arteries would be examined for calcium buildup with an electron-beam tomography (EBT) machine. It’s pretty uncommon to find those deposits — which are what cause the vast majority of heart attacks — in a 35-year-old, but that only made me more anxious: If I was already collecting coronary calcium, I had some life-changing days ahead of me to ensure that there wouldn’t be a life-ending one anytime soon.

This is the whole point behind getting scanned like this in the first place, according to HealthWave’s owner Dan Parker, a former rock ‘n’ roll pro (first came to Santa Barbara with Beach Boy Mike Love) who went into audio-video and learned about calcium scoring while filming cardiology conferences in the late 1990s. “My reaction was: Who would not want to know that?” recalled Parker, who then investigated EBT machines and found them to be “elegant technology” with “bulletproof” results. Soon after, he started touring California on an EBT road show of sorts, eventually scanning 6,000 people in three years from San Diego to Reno, Nevada, including stops at Earl Warren Showground. Last year, Parker gave the EBT machine a permanent home in Santa Barbara, giving us a new option to confront health issues before they kill us.

HealthWave's Drs. Michael Eades and Mary Dan Eades.
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman

HealthWave’s Drs. Michael Eades and Mary Dan Eades.

“This is truly 21st-century medicine,” said Parker, explaining that EBT scans are now frequently requested by cardiologists, as they are quicker (20 minutes max), easier (no claustrophobic tube, just about 45 seconds of holding your breath), and involve far less X-ray radiation than CT scans. “Calcium scoring was controversial 10 years ago, but that’s done now.”

Also invested in the project are husband-and-wife doctors Mike and Mary Dan Eades, nutritional experts who previously ran clinics in Colorado and Arkansas and started the country’s meat-is-good-for-you trend with the 1997 publishing of Protein Power, a bestseller that inspired today’s caveman diet craze. They’re loud proponents of the preventative possibilities of EBT scanning, arguing that the medical world’s long-held adherence to tracking cholesterol to predict heart health is basically bunk and that there are lots of people taking risky, expensive statin drugs who don’t need them. “You can see everything from lips to hips basically,” said Mary Dan Eades of the machine, which also can conduct a virtual colonscopy, check for osteoporosis with bone density tests, and fully examine your lungs for problems, among other techniques. “It’s a whole new world in what you can determine and what you can do about it.”

So why is this the only one on the Central Coast and one of only about 145 worldwide? Because, according to Michael Eades, they are a real threat to the profitable CT scan industry, in that EBTs — which don’t rely on many moving parts — last for decades whereas CT scanners need to be replaced every three years. “The modern medical industry is in the Band-Aid business,” said Parker, who offers the calcium-score scan for $395. “We at HealthWave want to be in a new business, which is getting the knowledge known and acting on it appropriately.”

Happily for me, my scan came back showing no calcium whatsoever. Now it’s my job to keep it that way.

See, call (805) 682-1023, or visit 3892 State Street, Suite 101.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Why print a free advertisement for EBT? This imaging technique has been around for decades and the minute someone tells you the reason there are not more of them is:
" they are a real threat to the profitable CT scan industry, in that EBTs — which don’t rely on many moving parts — last for decades whereas CT scanners need to be replaced ever three years" you know you had better run away. CT's are not replaced every three years and the problem with the EBT gated calcium tracking is that we are not sure what the results mean. Practitioner/scientists like myself are always looking at alternative technologies including EBT. It's as simple as that.
Jeez, what's next, a column about pet pyschics or something even nuttier? Nah, even the Indy is not that wacked out...

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
December 23, 2012 at 6:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Why print an article about EBT?
Perhaps because heart disease is still the Number One killer of both men and women in our country?
Perhaps because EBT is the proven gold standard for detection and prevention?
If a practitioner/scientist takes the time to read the more than 1,500 peer-reviewed research papers in the most prestigious medical journals, he or she might recognize and acknowledge it's value in predicting and treating heart disease.
The reason that the superior EBT scan(s) "has been around for decades" is that the top medical facilities from The Mayo Clinic to UCLA have endorsed it's value.
The EBT is, in fact, an elegant design and the only way to detect the presence of coronary artery calcified plaque accurately and with a fraction of the radiation of other CT scanners.
This simple, safe and affordable test is the best way to know if you have heart disease absent of symptoms.
Those interested in knowing this vital information should, indeed, "run". They should run to the nearest EBT center for a coronary calcium score and find a physician, of which there are many, who endorse it's value and use it to help their patients prevent premature death from myocardial infarction (heart attacks).
It appears that HealthWave is providing patients a viable way to determine their risk BEFORE they have life-threatening "events".
That is the future of medicine as opposed to the current model of treating the patient AFTER the disease has presented itself.
For the many, many patients who are taking their healthcare as a personal responsibility, getting these scans is an essential component in their arsenal.
Thanks to the Independent and other forward-looking publications, the public is becoming aware of the best tools available in the modern era of medicine.
While so many "practitioners" (well meaning as they might be) are busy "looking at alternative technologies", patients are doing their own research and actually taking advantage of EBT themselves.
That is a good thing.
I applaud The Independent and the author for letting patients know about this technology in their local community.

californiadreamer (anonymous profile)
December 23, 2012 at 11:24 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I am grateful for this. I did not know of healthwavesb and, having various risk factors, shall look into it. Thanks for the story.

at_large (anonymous profile)
December 23, 2012 at 11:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Testing is just the start. Weigh your options ahead of time depending upon what this "test" allegedly tells you. Yes, heart disease remains a leading cause of death, primarily because most deaths regardless of concomitant disease alternatives end with some form or cardiac arrest.

If common sense and a little self-education from reliable health resources (not the sales clerk at Lazy Acres) does not already tell you your best life style choices to make now to lower your risk of eventual heart disease, why rely on an expensive and dubious scan to reinforce this same information that is out there for free already.

Will this test on the other hand make you decide to take expensive prescription and poorly researched and validated drugs or have more invasive medical procedures in your currently symptom free mind and body? That is the critical slippery slope you need to consider first before you do this test for "fun".

Oblati (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 12:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I googled "electron beam tomography" ... anyone who's considering this diagnostic procedure should probably do some homework first and talk it over with your physician.

The part that concerned me the most was scoring methodology. Is this really suitable for the general population given the probability of false positives?

Also, is EBT generally covered by heath insurance?

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
December 30, 2012 at 5:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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