The 2014 flu shot: What’s new and why get it now

vaccine imageNow is a great time to roll up your sleeve because the flu vaccine takes two weeks to kick in, says Elizabeth Jones, M.D., a family physician at the University of Michigan Health System’s Livonia Health Center. Everyone 6 months of age and older is encouraged to get their yearly flu vaccine, ideally by October.

More must-know flu season information

Needle-free season for kids. New this year, the nasal spray vaccine has become the preferred flu vaccine for healthy children ages 2-8. Studies suggest it may work better than a flu shot in younger children. But don’t delay getting vaccinated to find the nasal spray vaccine, Jones says.

A boost for seniors. Adults age 65 and older, there’s an alternative for you: a high-dose vaccine that new research shows is 24 percent more effective at preventing flu. As we age our immune system Continue reading

Patient shares her peripheral artery disease experience

Intense leg pain made it difficult to walk even to her mailbox

Jolette Munoz wants people to know something: “I am still here!”

This University of Michigan patient looks at life a little bit differently these days, knowing she has overcome some very difficult health challenges. Jolette credits the care and expertise of doctors at the University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center with helping her beat the odds.

Jolette’s health issues began with a massive heart attack in 2001. Then, in 2009, she underwent triple bypass surgery, followed shortly after by a diagnosis of peripheral artery disease (PAD). In fact, the severe PAD-related pain she first experienced was during cardiac rehab after her bypass surgery. Jolette says the pain began in her calf, and extended up from there. “The pain was so intense that I couldn’t even walk to the mailbox,” she remembers.

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Low-carb v low-fat diet

Does ditching the carbs lead to a healthier heart?

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A new study discusses the advantages of a low-carb v low-fat diet and its impact on heart health.

Low-carb diets of one form or another have been on our radar for quite some time as a way to quickly shed pounds, but we haven’t known much about how these types of diets affect our heart health. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine last week says that compared to a low-fat diet, a low-carbohydrate diet is better not only for weight loss, but may also be better for your heart. Before we jump on the low-carb bandwagon, let’s take a closer look at this low-carb v low-fat study.

The study

This study included 148 obese men and women with healthy lipids and no history of heart disease or type 2 diabetes. They were assigned randomly to either a low-fat or low-carbohydrate diet, and they followed these diets for 12 months. All participants met with registered dietitians and received nutrition education, with emphasis on the benefits of monounsaturated fats and recommendations to limit trans fats. Those assigned to the low-fat diet were instructed to have less than 30 percent of their total calories from fat (less than 7 percent from saturated fat), while those assigned to the low-carb diet were instructed to limit their carbohydrate intake to less than 40 grams per day. Neither group was given a specific calorie goal. On average across the 12 months, participants in the low-carb group consumed about 130 fewer calories per day than those in the low-fat group. Continue reading

Atrial fibrillation: what you need to know

Treatments vary depending on a patient's symptoms and stroke risk

September is National Atrial Fibrillation Awareness MonthStethoscope and heart ECG

Atrial fibrillation (“a-tree-uhl fih-bruh-lay-shun”), or A-fib, is an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that starts in the upper portion (atria) of the heart. A-fib affects more than 5 million Americans and is the most common arrhythmia that leads to hospitalization. A-fib is the leading cause of stroke and is associated with an increase in morbidity and mortality. During A-fib, the upper chambers of the heart beat rapidly and erratically in a chaotic way without any effective muscle contraction. A-fib may develop as a result of changes in the heart due to age. Hypertension (high blood pressure), valvular heart disease, coronary artery disease, over-activity of the thyroid gland or excessive alcohol intake may promote A-fib. There can also be a genetic component. Continue reading

Tailgating and alcohol: Information to take to heart

Why does my heart race after drinking?

Tailgating and alcohol

Before you head out to your next tailgate party, make sure you’re aware of the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption.

It’s football season, and with it comes the fun of tailgating … and often an increase in alcohol consumption. Dr. Kenneth Tobin, clinical assistant professor for the Department of Internal Medicine and director in the Chest Pain Center at the University of Michigan, says patients often ask questions about alcohol and heart health, including: “Why does my heart race after drinking alcohol?” Dr. Tobin discusses this question and other alcohol/heart health issues here–information about tailgating and alcohol you can take to heart this football season. Continue reading

Gazpacho recipe: A refreshing taste of summer

Gazpacho

Gazpacho is a healthy way to enjoy summer-fresh flavors.

It may not be official on the calendar, but Labor Day marks the “end of summer” for many of us. Until then, why not indulge in some of the season’s freshest flavors this weekend by whipping up a delicious — and easy — batch of gazpacho? According to Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Sue Ryskamp, the gazpacho recipe below was a big hit at the recent University of Michigan Wellness Resource Center’s “Nutritious Is Delicious” food-tasting event.

Simple summer gazpacho

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber, sliced thin
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4-cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4-cup good quality balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups No Salt Added tomato juice
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor. Whirl until just blended. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. To serve, ladle gazpacho into bowls.

Feel free to jazz it up with toppers such as fresh grilled shrimp, a dollop of Greek yogurt, sliced avocado or diced cucumber to add extra color and texture to this fun treat you’ll want to serve again and again!


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 umcvc.org.