Energy drinks and your health

Are they safe?

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The number of emergency room visits associated with energy drinks has skyrocketed since 2007.

Energy drinks — Red Bull, Monster Energy and Full Throttle, just to name a few — are the fastest-growing beverage in the entire beverage industry. In 2012, Americans spent $10 billion on energy drinks. Makers of energy drinks tend to target advertising toward children and young adults, which might explain why three-quarters of individuals age 2-22 drink at least some caffeine — the main ingredient in energy drinks — daily. Even more alarming, 63 percent of children ages 2-5 consume caffeine on a daily basis, according to the March issue of Pediatrics.

How much caffeine is safe?

Energy drinks can contain up to 500 mg of caffeine per serving. In comparison, coffee averages 100 mg per cup while cola averages 35-55 mg per 12-ounce can. Too much caffeine can lead to anxiety, hyperactivity, insomnia, increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established 400 mg of caffeine per day as a safe limit for most adults; however, the agency has not set a safe limit for children and adolescents. Continue reading

Are e-cigarettes safe?

New study shows rise in nicotine poisoning from liquid nicotine used in these devices

The use of e-cigarettes is skyrocketing, particularly among teens.

The use of e-cigarettes is skyrocketing, particularly among teens.

Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, were created as a safer alternative to the real thing - mimicking cigarettes in size, shape, even a glowing tip. But are they really safer than tobacco? Research into the effects of the growing use of e-cigarettes is lacking, but, for the first time, the FDA is considering regulating the devices, potentially changing an industry that generates some $2 billion each year in the United States.

A gateway drug?

Also referred to as hookah pens, e-hookahs or vape pipes, these devices are part of a fast-growing market, particularly among teens. The products come in a variety of colors and flavors. E-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco. Instead, there’s a mechanism that heats up liquid nicotine and turns it into a vapor that smokers inhale and exhale. Many contain other unregulated chemicals as well. Continue reading

Heart transplants: The ultimate gift of life

David Parker inspires others in the fight for their life

Since 1984, The University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center Heart Transplant Program has performed more than 900 heart transplants, as well as implanting more than 500 ventricular assist devices (VADs) — most as a way to “bridge” patients to transplant. The U-M team also provides the multidisciplinary care required for complex transplant patients and includes specialists in advanced circulatory support, cardiac critical care, nutrition and social work.

This closely integrated team of cardiac transplant surgeons and transplant cardiologists is highly skilled in treating and implanting donor hearts in patients with the most urgent cardiac needs. U-M’s high volume, vast experience and active research program makes it a leader in heart transplant surgeries.

U-M patient David Parker received a new heart in December 2012. Today, he is living a full, active life that includes walking three miles, weight training and swimming most days of the week.

David shares his story of courage and his path back to living …

David Parker and his wife, Carol

David Parker and his wife, Carol

“My name is David Parker. I am 64 years old and thankful to the University of Michigan cardiac team for my new life. I first became ill in 2001. I started with an irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation, or afib. I was in and out of the hospital getting ‘cardioverted,’ a procedure in which the heart is shocked back into normal sinus rhythm. After a while, the doctors saw that this was not going to work. So I went to the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, where Dr. Hakan Oral and his team performed three ablations. This helped for a period of time, but the afib eventually returned.

I was getting weaker and weaker as time passed. My doctors decided the only thing that would work was a heart transplant. I was put into the hospital to try to build up my strength and was put on the heart transplant list. At this time, my organs were starting to shut down and I was told I was too sick for a heart transplant. My only other option was to have a left ventricle assist device (LVAD) inserted. An LVAD is an electrical pump that attaches to the heart and pumps blood throughout the body. With the LVAD surgery, performed by Dr. Jonathan Haft, my organs started improving. I had the LVAD for 11 months, running on batteries during the day and plugged into a wall outlet at night. During that time, I was put back on the heart transplant list. Continue reading

The best fish to eat for heart health

Keep up with fish dinners, even after Lent

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Oily fish, such as salmon, has the highest amounts of omega-3, or good fats.

Friday night fish fries may end after Lent, but that doesn’t mean your commitment to eating fish on Fridays has to stop …

The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish per week (particularly fatty, or oily, fish) to reduce the risk of death from heart disease and stroke. So why not continue a good thing by keeping fish on your Friday menu?

And, remember, the best fish to eat for heart health is oily fish. Here’s why:

While all fish provide protein and omega-3 fatty acids, salmon and other oily fish — sardines, tuna, mackerel, bluefish, rainbow trout and herring — have the highest amounts. These “good fats” benefit the hearts of healthy people, and those who have, or are at high risk for, cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias), which can lead to sudden death. Omega-3 fatty acids also decrease triglyceride levels, slow growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque and lower blood pressure. Continue reading

Schedule your vein treatment consultation now

Almost time to replace those long pants and warm socks with summer shorts and sandals

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Schedule your vein treatment consultation now to get your legs ready for summer.

This is the time of year when long pants and warm socks are replaced with summer shorts and sandals. It is also the time of year when many patients come to the University of Michigan Vein Centers for a vein treatment consultation, wanting to know what they can do to get their legs looking and feeling great. Often, they are concerned with the appearance of spider and varicose veins, which impact more than 30 million adults in the United States.

The key is to schedule your vein treatment consultation a few months in advance, as some treatment options require follow-up and/or time to heal.

A visit to the University of Michigan Livonia Vein Center usually begins with an exam by one of our experienced providers, who will gather information about your vein health and share information about caring for your legs. In some cases, an ultrasound study of your legs may be necessary. Then, a personalized treatment plan is designed specifically for you.

New varicose vein treatment on the horizon

Varithena® is recently FDA-approved for foam sclerotherapy and has been shown to improve the symptoms and appearance of varicose veins. This treatment — a minimally invasive, non-surgical procedure that features injecting the varicose vein — is expected to be available this summer. Continue reading

Health apps for your smartphone

Track your BMI & medications, check your heart rate

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Smartphone apps let you track heart rate, blood pressure, meds/doses and BMI.

Fifty-eight percent of American adults today own a smartphone, according to a recent study by Pew Research Center. This means more than half the U.S. adult population is equipped to monitor vital health numbers and track medications via health apps designed for smartphones.

The healthcare professionals at the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center Mardigian Wellness Resource Center included the following on their list of health apps for your smartphone compiled to help patients and families improve cardiovascular health. Continue reading