Thanks to a $1 million gift from Utah businessman and professional sports owner Dell Loy Hansen, researchers from the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute are launching one of the largest and most ambitious research initiatives ever undertaken in the state of Utah to test a new standard of care to better identify and treat people at risk of having a heart attack – and to potentially stop it before they ever have one. 

Findings from the first-of-its-kind study, which will involve more than 90,000 people in Utah, could possibly change the way cardiovascular-related diseases are diagnosed in the future – and potentially save thousands of lives due to more accurate screening and better diagnosis. 

The Intermountain Coronary Calcium study, or CorCal study for short, is seeking to determine the best way to proactively identify patients who may be at high risk for coronary heart disease to prevent a future heart event and is unique as participants will register online. 

For the study, researchers will test the effectiveness of presently existing standard heart prevention guidelines (centered around cholesterol testing) compared to a novel strategy that includes performing a low-dose CT scan of the heart to screen for the build-up of calcium in the arteries.

The presence of coronary calcium indicates a build-up of atherosclerotic plaque in the arteries to the heart and brain and is associated with an increased risk of a future heart attack or stroke. Some patients enrolled in the study will undergo a CT heart scan, while others will not. 

Donor Dell Loy Hansen has already been helped by Intermountain. He said at a recent press conference announcing the study, ““I'm a survivor, because of caring heart doctors. We're 100% behind them,” said Hansen. “We want to make sure from a community, that not only us, but others fund this amazing group of doctors. We have here in Utah, I think, our heart group is one of the premier research teams in the entire nation and world.”

* Grateful patient and community benefactor Dell Loy Hansen (second from left) presents a generous $1 million donation to Intermountain Research and Medical Foundation to fund a new heart study that could save thousands of lives. From left: study enrollee Michele Teran; Hansen; and researcher investigators Kirk Knowlton, MD,  Brent Muhlestein, MD,  and Jeffrey Anderson, MD.