Lacrosse star plays on with pulmonary hypertension

Heart threat to young women often misdiagnosed

Blurry vision and chest pain during lacrosse training were the first signs of heart trouble for Katie Mezwa.

Blurry vision and chest pain during lacrosse training were the first signs of heart trouble for Katie Mezwa.

Katie Mezwa lives with a kind of high blood pressure that’s known to impact women who may otherwise appear healthy.

Rather than high blood pressure throughout her body, Katie has pulmonary hypertension which is high blood pressure in the loop of vessels connecting the heart and lungs. The heart ends up working harder to pump oxygen-rich blood to the lungs.

With shortness of breath as the main symptom the condition is easy to be misdiagnosed. Katie’s first sign of heart trouble:  blurry vision, fatigue and chest pain during a routine run with her lacrosse team.

A long path to answers included months of tests and appointments to find out why the active young woman had trouble performing. Continue reading

Three frequently asked questions about vein treatment

What you want to know about treatment cost, compression stockings and more

veins.fw (1)If you have tired or achy legs, you may have issues with vein health, including varicose veins. Patients often come to the U-M Vein Center because they want their legs to look and feel great. Here are some of our patients’ most frequently asked questions about spider and varicose veins.

“How much does varicose vein treatment cost?”

We’re all conscious of our budgets, but most of the concern about treatment for vein issues arises from patients being told by well-meaning family, friends and even physicians that their condition is “cosmetic.” Not all varicose vein treatment is cosmetic and most insurance companies cover diagnostic studies and treatment of symptomatic varicose veins (those that cause pain, aching, swelling, itching, calf/foot cramping). If you’re unsure, come and see us and we can help determine whether your condition meets the criteria. Continue reading

Playing a new tune after heart failure and heart transplant (VIDEO)

Scot Cannell shares his journey through heart failure at U-M

Band teacher Scot Cannell, 50, and his cardiologists at the University of Michigan would come up with a solution at each low point in treating his heart disease:  an implantable cardiac defibrillator to keep his heart rhythm in check, then a left ventricular assist device to support his weakened heart.

In life and in Cannell’s world of music, hitting the high notes often takes hard work. Three years after being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, Cannell’s best option for living was a heart transplant.

“I had no family history of heart disease and I found myself in need of a new heart,” says Cannell, of Saline, Mich., a husband and father of three. “I dealt with it all with great support and humor whenever we could.

“The scariest part was hearing during the transplant evaluation that I had end stage heart failure. A nurse could see it upset me and she put a hand on my shoulder and told me, ‘End stage heart disease is just what it’s called. It doesn’t mean the end is here.’ ” Continue reading

Hitting the snooze button on hospital noise (Infographic)

UMHS10427ReduceHospitalNoise-v3Monitors. Alarms. Pagers. People. Hospitals can get as noisy as other places we hang out during the day and there’s a negative side to all that noise. Patients can’t sleep soundly and noise interferes with healing.

The University of Michigan Health System has established quiet hours and tested sound diffusion panels — similar to ones used in music rehearsal rooms — to reduce hospital noise. Look at a breakdown of how hospital noise compares to everyday sounds. Continue reading

4 things you should know about the FDA ban on trans fats

What does it really mean for you?

trans fat blogAfter years of debate in the medical community and the media, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided to put its proverbial foot down, announcing in June that partially hydrogenated oils (PHO), the major dietary source of trans fats in processed foods, must be eliminated from all food products by the year 2018. This comes on the heels of a 2006 FDA mandate to include trans fats on the Nutrition Facts label, and a 2013 decision that deemed PHOs no longer “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS).

Here are 4 things you should know relating to the FDA ban on trans fats:

What Are PHOs?

So what is this stuff anyway? PHOs are artificial trans fats that are widespread in processed foods like refrigerated dough products, fast food, crackers, microwave popcorn, cakes, cookies, pies, coffee creamers and stick margarines. They are attractive to food manufacturers because they prolong shelf life and give a desirable consistency Continue reading

Two-time aortic aneurysm survivor shares her experience

One woman's story of hope

Lori Eslick is a two-time aortic aneurysm survivor. Her heart issues began as a newborn when she was diagnosed with a heart murmur and bicuspid aortic valve disease (a congenital abnormality).

Years later, at age 49, a routine EKG led to the diagnosis of an ascending aortic aneurysm.

An ascending aortic aneurysm (also known as a thoracic aortic aneurysm) occurs in the part of the aorta in the chest, situated above the diaphragm, a muscle that helps you breathe. Approximately 25 percent of aortic aneurysms are thoracic, with the rest occurring in the abdomen. Thoracic aortic aneurysms can rupture and lead to severe internal bleeding, resulting in death. They don’t always cause symptoms, even when they’re large. Only half of all people who have thoracic aortic aneurysms notice any symptoms. Continue reading