Top 10 blogs in 2014

top 10 pick blogFrom blood pressure apps for your smart phone to the longest living LVAD recipient, here are the top 10 blogs you found the most interesting in 2014:

  1. Blood pressure apps for your smart phone. Six apps for iOS and Android that feature logs, data sharing, tracking and more.
  2. What weighs 10 pounds? Post-surgery lifting advice made easier.
  3. Jennifer and Matthew Romano – A one-of-a-kind couple. A love story of two doctors – in recognition of Valentine’s Day and American Heart Month.
  4. 21 days to a less stressed you. Tips to help you manage and minimize stress in your life.
  5. 2014 flu shot: What’s new and why get it now? Everyone six months or older is encouraged to get their yearly flu vaccine.
  6. Spirituality and health: Is there a connection? Faith and support help people deal with stress.
  7. CPR saves the life of a Michigan fan. Learn how to save the life of someone in cardiac arrest.
  8. Are e-cigarettes safe? The American Heart Association calls for added restrictions on e-cigarettes.
  9. Patient room service gets big thumbs up. University of Michigan Health System patients can now order what they want, when they want it.
  10. Meet the longest living heart LVAD recipientDavid Pierce received his first LVAD on May 26, 2004, at the age of 52, making him the longest living Heartmate II LVAD patient in the U.S.

Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at

Like salty foods? Study shows salt may not be all bad

More research needed to know how much salt each person's heart can handle

chef using seasoning blogOnly 1 percent of adults meet the current guidelines for dietary salt intake, which has led to efforts to reduce sodium in common foods like bread and soup. However, a new research study in over 2,600 seniors suggests that salt intake doesn’t strongly affect heart health in older adults.

Authors of the JAMA Internal Medicine study brought to a simmer the debate over which is better – longstanding federal guidelines to consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, or a new low of 1,500 milligrams or less. Based on information from dietary questionnaires, neither sodium guideline showed remarkable results in protecting from heart attack, stroke, or heart failure.

At first, this looks like good news for those who’ve eaten the same way for a long time and can’t imagine changing what’s on their plate – but the findings don’t necessarily mean patients can leave their doctors’ offices ignoring good advice about salt restriction. Continue reading

Three tips for fighting the flu

As the flu season peaks, there are still precautions you can take to lessen your chances of getting sick

flu fighting blog

Washing your hands with soap and warm water is just one of many ways to fight the flu.

As this year’s influenza (flu) virus reaches its peak in Michigan, we at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center stress to our heart patients the importance of taking necessary precautions to avoid getting the flu — or to minimize their symptoms if they do get the flu. This includes patients whose heart health is being managed as well as our pre-op and post-op patients.

Here are some important tips for fighting the flu:

  1. First and foremost, in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we recommend everyone, including heart patients, get an annual flu vaccine. If you’re a heart patient scheduled for surgery, you should get the flu vaccine one month prior to your surgery date. Even though this year’s flu vaccine is not an ideal match, the CDC says it can still offer important protection and help prevent serious flu complications.
  2. If you develop flu symptoms, see your doctor right away for an antiviral medication such as Tamiflu, which can lessen your symptoms. The sooner you see your doctor, the better you’ll be able to manage your symptoms.
  3. Keep germs at bay. The CDC recommends these methods to prevent the spread of germs:

Continue reading

Four simple steps to clean eating

Green Smoothie 320x320

Try a clean, green turmeric smoothie to kickstart a clean eating lifestyle.

Maybe you’ve read about Katy Perry or Gwyneth Paltrow being fans. Eating “clean” has gained popularity not only with celebrities, but also with mainstream America. And it’s rejuvenating and inspiring a new generation of healthy eaters.

Clean eating is a rather simple concept. Instead of focusing on ingesting more or less specific things, such as fewer calories or more protein, the focus is on being mindful of the food’s pathway between its origin and your plate. At its simplest, clean eating is about eating whole foods, or foods that are minimally processed, refined and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible.

However, modern food production has become so sophisticated that simply eating whole foods can be challenging. Our food today is not our grandmother’s food supply! According to “Food Sleuth” Melinda Hemmelgarn, MS, RD, clean eating is thinking beyond the plate. It’s choosing food grown or produced without chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, synthetic pesticides and growth hormones. Continue reading

Starting an exercise program?

Your doctor can recommend screening tests to help determine your risk for heart disease

exercise 2 BlogWhile the new year brings resolutions to get in shape, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends a “risk-stratification” approach to exercise participation. This means that the level of risk corresponds to the number of heart disease risk factors a person may have. These factors (high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, family history of heart disease, smoking habit, obesity and abnormal glucose tolerance) may indicate danger in starting an exercise program.

Tests that help determine heart disease risk

According to the American Heart Association, the key to preventing cardiovascular disease is managing your risk factors through screening tests during regular doctor visits. Below are the screen tests recommended by the AHA.

Continue reading

Tips for heart-healthy winter workouts

These simple safety precautions can protect your heart during the cold winter months

winter workout BlogIt’s a new year, and with it come resolutions to get fit through diet and exercise. But outdoor winter workouts call for a few safety precautions. Heart patients, in particular, need to take extra care, but everyone about to begin an outdoor workout routine should follow these safety tips. And be sure to check with your healthcare professional prior to starting any exercise program.

Heart-healthy tips

  • Avoid outdoor exercise or physical activity in extreme temperatures, generally below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Choose an indoor workout when the temps dip this low.
  • Dress in layers, which will help to trap warm air, and then remove layers as necessary if you warm up.
  • Wear sunscreen (a minimum of SPF 30) year-round.
  • Protect all areas of your skin — especially the head, face, ears, feet and hands — from exposure to the cold, which can result in frostbite.
  • Shield your face and mouth with a scarf or mask to warm up cold air before breathing it in. Cold air can cause vasoconstriction (a narrowing of the width) of arteries in the heart. Narrowing of blood vessels due to the cold can cause a significant increase in blood pressure. Breathing in cold air can also cause constricted airways.
  • Always do a 5- to 10-minute warm-up to get your heart and muscles prepared for more intense exercise. A slow- or moderate-paced walk is ideal.
  • Wear sturdy footwear with good traction and watch out for icy patches.
  • Carry a cell phone with you and keep it in a warm place to protect it from getting damaged in the cold.
  • If possible, bring a workout buddy with you to keep you accountable and to help in case of an emergency.

If you have a chronic heart condition, be familiar with your symptoms and monitor yourself during your workout. If you find outdoor exercise difficult, try lowering your intensity. And if you feel new symptoms, stop your workout and seek medical attention.


Jennifer LeFresne

Jennifer LeFresne is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist in Cardiac Rehabilitation at the Cardiovascular Medicine Clinic at Domino’s Farms. She earned her master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University in exercise physiology and bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University. Her professional interests include: patient and family centered care, technology and design in healthcare, patient education and student development.


Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at