Calcium Score was the First Critical Step for Ron Steuck and Tim Enos

For Bates County residents Ron Steuck and Tim Enos, taking a simple test called a calcium score was a critical step to preventing a cardiac event.

A coronary calcium score is a non-invasive test using a CT, or special x-ray, that helps reveal blocked or narrowed arteries in the heart from calcified plaque. A score is given for the patient’s risk based on the level of plaque buildup. For people at moderate risk, this inexpensive test can predict heart disease before symptoms begin. For those who have significant buildup without many other signs or symptoms of heart disease, a heart CT scan can potentially save a life. Such was the case for Ron and Tim.  

Ronald Steuck

Ron, a 70-year-old resident of Rich Hill, says he thought he was fine. He was watching his diet, exercising daily, and taking medication for high cholesterol. He had occasional fatigue and shortness of breath, but he felt that came with the territory of aging. His daughter, however, was concerned about his family history of heart disease. Andrea Davis, who works in the cardiac rehabilitation department at Bates County Memorial Hospital knew a calcium score could reveal a lot more about her dad’s risk.

“She was the one who pushed me to get it,” Ron said. Any score over 400 is considered extensive evidence of coronary artery disease, or CAD, and Ron’s score was 1800.

Ron also took his daughter’s advice to see Dr. James Wirkkula, a family physician at Adrian Family Care Clinic.

“He took one look at the test scores and the family history, and he said, ‘You’re going to see a cardiologist tomorrow.’” Ron had additional testing including a heart catheterization which showed over 90 percent blockage in several arteries. The following day, he had six bypasses placed in open heart surgery at St. Joseph’s Medical Center on June 30, 2021.

Ron’s diagnosis took him by surprise. “I didn’t feel that bad before,” he said. “I know now what I was feeling before was my limitations. I did what I wanted to do, I just wasn’t able to do it as long as you normally would.”

Tim Enos

Tim Enos of Adrian was 67 when his family doctor retired, and he decided to establish his care with Dr. Wirkkula. During their first visit, Dr. Wirkkula discovered Tim’s father had suffered a heart attack at the age of 55.

“So, you’ve been to a cardiologist, right?” Dr. Wirkkula asked. Tim admitted he had not. Except for family history, he did not have any other risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, cigarette smoking, or being overweight. Dr. Wirkkula referred Tim to see a cardiologist, and in the meantime, Tim scheduled a calcium score test.

“Dr. Wirkkula was the one who got the ball rolling. Otherwise, I never would have known anything,” Tim said.

Tim had two coronary CT scans performed 18 months apart. His first calcium score put him in the high-risk category, but the follow-up score showed an alarming increase. His cardiologist, Dr. Gerald Mancuso, looked at the results of the second scan and asked him if he was having chest pains. Tim said he was not; he was feeling good and exercising every morning. His doctor felt a heart catheterization procedure was warranted, which showed his heart had a 70% calcium blockage in the left anterior descending artery; what some refer to as the widow maker. He was scheduled for bypass surgery soon after that on May 25, 2021.

Recovery with Cardiac Rehabilitation

Ron and Tim both completed cardiac rehabilitation at Bates County Memorial Hospital. Their three-month supervised exercise program overlapped, and afterward, they each decided to continue with the maintenance program offered by the department.

Tim said there are definite perks to the maintenance program for the recovering heart patient. “They take your blood pressure and heart rate before you start and when you’re done, and if it’s high they don’t let you leave right away. They watch after you, they clean the machines, and you know it’s not just a job to them, they really care about you.” Even though he didn’t have symptoms prior to his surgery, Tim feels he is in better shape now than he has ever been.

Ron says his daughter Andrea kept checking up on him after surgery, as some cardiac patients suffer from depression and anxiety after surgery or a cardiac event. “I feel lucky, is how I felt.,” he said. “I felt lucky that she kept after me to get something done, because I think the alternative would not have been good.”

A physician’s order is not required to have a calcium score, now available at Bates County Memorial Hospital. The greatest benefit is for people at moderate risk for heart disease. For some, a heart scan does not offer any additional benefit. Ask your doctor if calcium scoring is advisable for you. Learn more about a calcium score test at

Pictured with Ron Steuck (left) and Tim Enos (right) is Ron’s daughter Andrea Davis, RN in the Cardiac Rehabilitation clinic at Bates County Memorial Hospital.