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Advanced CT technology saves Bismarck woman's life

Meet Connie Ness. She’s an avid walker and runner and former smoker of more than 50 years. Her life, at age 70, was saved— thanks to her instincts, a determined doctor and new lifesaving technology.

Ness stays in shape by walking and running regularly. She keeps her mind active by cooking and baking, as well as repurposing old jewelry into something new and donating her creations to second-hand stores in the area.

“I’ve always been healthy my whole life,” she said. “I always felt good.” So last summer when she started waking up at night with a sick feeling in her stomach, she knew something wasn’t right. Along with an upset stomach, she had a burning sensation in her chest and a pain that ran down her arm to her fingertips.

“It was getting harder for me to run up and down the stairs in my house,” she said. Having been a smoker for most of her life, she was scared the burning sensation was a sign of a problem with her lungs.

But she also has a strong family history of heart trouble— two

  Connie Ness is back doing what she loves thanks to the most advanced CT scanner.
Connie Ness of Bismarck is back to
doing what she loves, thanks to the most advanced CT scanner in the world—Aquilion ONE, which is
available at Sanford Health.
of her brothers and her dad died of heart attacks, two living brothers have had open heart surgery and her sister takes heart medication. Ness made an appointment for a physical.

Dr. Brenda Miller, a family medicine doctor at Sanford SouthClinic, has been Ness’ primary care doctor for several years. Ness told her about the symptoms she was experiencing. “Dr. Brenda,” as Ness calls her, ordered a chest X-ray. But the X-ray didn’t show anything unusual, and Ness’s pain continued.

Dr. Brenda Miller
Miller, MD

Family medicine
  “Connie doesn’t ever complain,” Dr. Miller said. “So we kept looking.”

A stress test came back with inconclusive results. Dr. Miller’s next step was to send Ness to Sanford Health’s radiology department, home to the most advanced CT scanner in the world, the Aquilion ONE.

The CT scan quickly identified an artery in Ness’s heart that was nearly 100 percent blocked. A few days later, in March 2010, two stents were placed into her blocked artery.

Aquilion ONE was the first of its kind in the Midwest and is the only one in North Dakota. Its high-speed technology images the heart in just one rotation, making the blockage in Ness' artery easy to see.

“Without the Aquilion One CT, Connie probably would have had a massive heart attack in six months,” Dr. Miller said.

When it comes to heart health, Dr. Miller said it is important to discuss family history and symptoms with your doctor.

“Women don’t complain about the same things as men,” she said. “Men come in with pressure on their chests, and we know right away what the problem is. Women often come in saying they don’t feel right or they can’t quite do as much as they used to.”

Ness can’t help but think about what could have happened to her without Dr. Miller and the Aquilion ONE.

“People like me died from this condition in the past,” Ness said. “Dr. Brenda saved me. I got another chance at life.” She quit smoking immediately, and is back to doing what she loves—being active, creating jewelry, enjoying life. Ness and her boyfriend, Joe, are taking the train to California this summer to see her son for the first time in 13 years.

Click here for more information about Sanford Health's Aquilion ONE CT scanner or call
(701) 323-5210.


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