Heart device gives patient freedom during wait for heart transplant

Michael Richards feels “lucky” to be alive after heart failure diagnosis

Michael Richards, 25, has a total artificial heart controlled by wearable technology, giving him the freedom to visit Ann Arbor's Hands On Museum with his 2-year-old daughter.

“I was a nervous wreck,” says Michael Richards, Jr., 25, about the first time he and his family changed the battery for the backpack-sized device that controls his heart.

When most people hear “wearable technology,” they think of fitness trackers and enhanced glasses. The total artificial heart works on a higher level — allowing heart patients independence as they wait for a heart transplant.

The 14-pound Freedom® Driver, which Richards carries in a backpack, powers the total artificial heart with precisely calibrated pulses of air. The University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center is the only Michigan heart program to send patients home with the wearable technology. Continue reading

Advanced stenting procedure improves U-M patient’s quality of life

Jolette Munoz discovers “a better version” of herself

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Jolette Munoz says her quality of life has improved tremendously over the course of her treatment for various heart issues at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. But it’s her most recent advanced stenting procedure that has brought the most dramatic improvement in her quality of life, she says.

Jolette’s health issues began with a massive heart attack in 2009, which was followed by triple bypass surgery to treat a 90 percent blockage in her left anterior descending (LAD) artery. Then, later that year, she was treated for peripheral artery disease (PAD), a vascular arterial disease that causes blockages in the arteries to the legs.

Although Jolette’s surgeries improved her quality of life, over the next six years she experienced complications from her bypass. This led to multiple stenting procedures of her bypass arteries, which unexpectedly failed due to weakened blood vessels from radiation treatment for lung cancer several years prior to her heart attack. “It seemed like every other month I landed in the hospital for issues with my stents,” she says. Continue reading

U-M Healing Heart Retreat features Dr. Victor Strecher

Heart patients discover how to take part in their own healing process

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Six years ago, Victor Strecher, Ph.D., said goodbye to his daughter, Julia, who died of a rare heart condition at the age of 19. Today, this U-M professor and director for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship of at the University of Michigan School of Public Health has learned to channel his grief, helping others along the way.

Dr. Strecher’s commitment to teaching his 250 students as if they were his own daughter has fueled his belief in living a purposeful life. “Identifying your core values and aligning them with your life’s purpose — whatever you determine that to be — can help you change your behavior in positive and profound ways,” he says. Continue reading

Daylight saving time impacts timing of heart attacks

Heart attacks rise the Monday after setting clocks ahead one hour

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Heart attacks occur most often on Monday mornings, but research shows a 25 percent jump in the number of heart attacks occurring the Monday after we spring forward for daylight saving time, compared to other Mondays during the year.

It seems the hour of lost sleep during daylight saving time may play a bigger, perhaps more dangerous role in our body’s natural rhythm than we think, according to a study led by the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. Continue reading

Registered dietitians share 10 tips for good health

Learn the experts' personal strategies for healthy living

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In recognition of National Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day (March 9), we asked University of Michigan Health System registered dietitians how they incorporate professional training and knowledge into their personal lives. Here, they share 10 tips for good health: Continue reading

Good sleep habits and heart health

Are you a healthy sleeper?

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Studies show that not getting enough sleep or getting poor quality sleep on a regular basis increases the risk of high blood pressure, weight gain, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Good sleep habits and heart health go hand in hand. While the body rests during sleep, the brain remains active to produce hormones that promote growth and repair cells and tissue, fight infections and help the body control hunger.

While sleep needs vary from person to person, most adults need seven to eight hours each night. School-aged children and teens function best with at least nine hours of sleep each night; preschoolers, 10 to 12 hours. Continue reading