Health benefits of dark chocolate

Cocoa can lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels

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With Valentine’s Day right around the corner and boxes of chocolates spilling over in store aisles everywhere, it’s time to set the record straight about the health benefits of chocolate.

Dark chocolate rich in antioxidants

The good news about chocolate pertains to cocoa — the dark chocolate rich in plant compounds called flavonoids — which originates from seeds from the cacao tree. Flavonoids are natural antioxidants that help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the heart and brain, raise “good” HDL cholesterol levels and lower “bad” LDL levels — all of which protect against heart attack and stroke. And although cocoa is not considered a health food, it certainly can play a role in helping to keep the heart healthy. Continue reading

The long road to heart transplant

U-M patient shares the pain and joy

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Daniel Silverman has faced death more times that he’d like to think about. But through the years — 21 to be exact — and the many heart-related emergencies he’s experienced, he has never once asked: “Why me?”

This 59-year-old heart transplant patient is especially grateful to be alive today, and is thankful for his heart donor and for the cardiovascular team at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. But the road to his successful heart transplant has been a long and difficult one.

From the beginning

Daniel’s heart issues were first discovered during a routine physical in 1995. While living in Chicago, the then 39-year-old was diagnosed with premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) or irregular heartbeats. He had no symptoms at the time and was treated with ACE inhibitors to keep his heart beating at a steady rhythm. Continue reading

Real women, Real stories – Go Red for Women

On Feb. 5 wear red and learn your risk for heart disease

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Heart survivors Jolette Munoz and Sharon Gillon are living stronger.

Heart disease has long been thought of as a men’s issue, when it is actually the leading cause of death in both men and women. In fact, since 1984, more American women than men have died of heart disease.

Women have the power to reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke and the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign offers tips to set you on a heart-healthy path for life. Wear Red on Friday, Feb. 5 to show your support for better prevention, treatment and research of women’s heart disease.

Still need inspiration? Meet amazing women who are in the fight for their lives against heart disease. Continue reading

Four simple steps to clean eating

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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. Continue reading

PVCs could lead to a more serious heart condition

When should you worry about a fluttering heart?

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If you’ve ever had a fluttering heart, or noticed that your heart seems to skip a beat, you might be experiencing premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), a relatively common type of arrhythmia in both adults and children.

PVCs are the result of extra, abnormal heartbeats that begin in the ventricles, or lower pumping chambers, and disrupt your regular heart rhythm, which is controlled by a natural pacemaker known as the sinus node. This natural pacemaker creates electrical impulses that travel across the atria to the ventricles, causing them to contract and pump blood out to your lungs and body in what is known as normal sinus rhythm.

In the case of PVCs, the heart doesn’t actually skip a beat. Instead an extra beat comes sooner than normal. Then there’s typically a pause that causes the next beat to be more forceful, which is what most individuals detect. Although the range differs for each individual, we typically begin to see problems in patients with premature ventricular contractions that comprise 20 percent or more of total heartbeats.

PVCs can be caused by heart disease or scarring that can interfere with the heart’s normal electrical impulses. They can also be triggered by certain medications, alcohol, stress, exercise or caffeine. Continue reading

Exercise to keep your heart ticking

Don't let excuses get in the way

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We all know that exercise is a good thing for our health. But getting into a regular routine is often the first stumbling block. Once you overcome that, you’ll begin to realize the benefits of establishing and keeping to a successful exercise program.

According to University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center Cardiologist Dr. Sara Saberi, “For the general population, great things result from habitual exercise. Studies show that people who exercise actually live longer.” Continue reading