Love your heart, the VA tells women vets

New research reveals the causes of chest pain in women veterans is different from their male counterparts

women vet blogYou’ve probably heard this before: Women have a number of gender-specific heart disease risk factors and warning signs. As a result, doctors coach woman patients to recognize their unique indicators that something might be wrong. Now, research suggests that although women veterans who need a diagnostic cardiac catheterization might be suffering from chest pain like their male counterparts, what’s causing the chest pain is often completely different.

The research was led by Claire Duvernoy, M.D., chief of cardiology at VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and cardiologist at the U-M Cardiovascular Center. The team found that chest pain was a common reason for both women and men veterans to undergo a diagnostic cardiac catheterization. However, doctors were less likely to find blockages in women’s arteries that could lead to a heart attack or stroke. Continue reading

Seeing double at the Frankel CVC

Twins enjoy "comical confusion"

Mike (left) and Paul Ranella blog

Mike and Paul Ranella

Patients and employees at the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center often think they’re seeing double … but it’s likely they’re seeing just fine.

That’s because the CVC is “home” to three sets of identical twins:

  • Mike Ranella is the CVC program manager and his brother Paul Ranella is a CVC device nurse.
  • Corey Foster and Ben Foster are both 4th year medical students who recently completed their rotations at the CVC.
  • Courtney Clark and Rachel Scheich are both nurse practitioners in the CVC ICU.

The six agree that things get confusing at times — mainly in a humorous kind of way. Mike Ranella describes it as “fun confusion” when someone passes him and moments later sees his brother on another floor.  Perplexed looks and comments like, “Didn’t I just see you?” are common, he says.

Then there’s the confusion when one of Paul’s patients wants to talk to Mike about a medical issue. “They often feel compelled to share health information, even when they realize I’m not Paul.” Some patients have even given Mike a hug, he admits. “My brother is well liked, which is a good thing. I’d much rather get a hug from one of his patients than a hit,” he jokes. Continue reading

Top 5 Takeaways on Stroke

Dr. Eric Adelman's Mini Med School presentation focuses on stroke prevention and treatment

mini_med_school_cardiovascular_graphic stroke BlogLeading U-M Frankel CVC researchers and physicians are advancing knowledge, finding new treatments and applying new technologies. Each week one of them shared his or her expertise in a six-week Mini Med School community education program focused on cardiovascular topics.

Here are the Top 5 Takeaways from Dr. Eric Adelman’s Mini Med School presentation on Stroke Prevention and Treatment:

1. Know the signs of stroke

Brain damage can begin within minutes of experiencing a stroke, so it’s important to know the signs of stroke and to seek immediate treatment by calling 911. Rapid treatment can significantly improve your outcome.

Common stroke symptoms experienced by both men and women include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, particularly on one side of the body.
  • Sudden trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble walking or difficulty with balance or coordination or dizziness.
  • Sudden difficulty seeing or double vision.
  • Sudden severe headache without a clear cause.

FAST (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911) is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of a stroke. When you spot the signs, call 911 for help.

2. Maintain a healthy blood pressure

Half of all strokes are attributed to high blood pressure. If individuals with high blood pressure can drop the top number of their blood pressure reading by 10 points, they can reduce their risk of stroke by 25 to 30 percent. Most people need medication to lower their blood pressure, but lifestyle factors can also play a role. Don’t smoke, get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet (e.g., Mediterranean diet) and try to avoid added salt.

3. Afib is a risk factor

Individuals with atrial fibrillation (Afib) have an increased risk of stroke, so it’s important to take your medication (warfarin or other anti-coagulant) on a regular basis to help reduce your risk of stroke.

4. Prevention is key

It’s much easier to prevent a stroke than to treat one, so be proactive if you have certain risk factors. For example, if you have diabetes, take the necessary steps to control it. Make sure your cholesterol is well-managed. And keep your blood pressure under control.

5. New device to treat stroke

A new type of device known as a stent retriever has shown tremendous promise in treating stroke patients. Stents, similar to the ones used to open clogged heart arteries, are being used to clear a blood clot in the brain, reducing the amount of disability after a stroke. The stent is temporarily inserted via catheter through the groin to flatten the clot and trap it, and is then removed with the clot. The stent retriever procedure is used for patients with severe strokes.

Take the next step:


Adelman_eric150x150Dr. Eric Adelman is assistant professor of neurology at the University of Michigan and co-director of the U-M Comprehensive Stroke Center. He received his medical degree from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

 

 

 

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. The U-M Stroke Program is accredited as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Joint Commission and participates in the American Stroke Association “Get With The Guidelines®” Quality Initiative.

The Mediterranean diet: the gold standard for heart-healthy eating

May is National Mediterranean Diet Month

mediterranean Blog

Extra virgin olive oil in the diet has been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease

Are you looking for the most “heart-healthy” meal plan?

For years, the recommended diet to prevent heart disease was a low-fat diet. Then, as research began to reveal the negative effects of sugar and refined carbohydrates — often included in low-fat meals — many people turned to a low-carb diet. But low-carb does not necessarily mean “healthy.”

Now, more and more evidence points to a traditional Mediterranean meal plan as one of the healthiest eating patterns. A study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2/25/2013), shows that a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease by 30 percent in people at high risk for heart disease.

Continue reading

What’s Cinco de Mayo without Cilantro?

Add this distinct herb for extra flavor and health benefits

cinco de may blog

Pico de Gallo is a traditional Mexican dish featuring fresh cilantro.

We’re taking a look at herbs and their ability to add great flavor to your recipes, often eliminating the need for salt. We started with basil in March and this month we’re featuring cilantro.

Be sure to check back often to learn more about herbs and how to incorporate them into a delicious, healthy eating plan.

Celebrate with cilantro

With Cinco de Mayo just around the corner, it’s time to celebrate Mexican food and culture. Pico de Gallo, with its fresh tomato, onion, chile, lime juice and cilantro, is a classic component of Mexican festivities.  It’s also popular in Thai, Indian and Chinese cuisines.

Of cilantro’s two components used in cooking (seeds and leaves), our focus is on the leaves. The seeds are known as coriander and the leaves are known as cilantro (or coriander leaves). Look for bright green leaves without yellow spots if you purchase cut cilantro. If you’re harvesting from your own garden, cut up to 1/3 of the plant at a time, leaving enough leaves for continued growth. To clean cilantro leaves, move them gently around a bowl of cold water until all dirt/sand is removed. When chopping the cilantro, include some of the tender stems for additional flavor. Continue reading

I need a cardiologist … now what?

U-M Call Center professionals make the process smooth

CVC_Call_Center_004 blog

The U-M Call Center team (from left): Cheryl Palmer, Sandy Coffey, Andrea Navarre and Ashley Chang.

Your primary physician just recommended you see a cardiologist for a suspected heart condition. So where do you go from here?

If you decide you’d like to see a University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center cardiologist, the process is straightforward, beginning with a call to one of our Call Center professionals.

Call Center professionals are here to help guide you through the process of identifying the right cardiologist.

Getting started

“We start by gathering as much information from the caller as possible,” says Andrea Navarre. This includes a diagnosis (if one was given by the primary doctor) and a description of any symptoms the person is experiencing. “We realize that finding the right doctor can be overwhelming. That’s why we’re here to provide guidance and to point each caller to a cardiologist who aligns with his or her specific diagnosis or needs.” Continue reading