What women want to know about ICDs

Four frequently asked questions by women about implantable cardioverter defibrillators

women and ICD blogAn implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is an electronic device that provides immediate therapy to a life-threatening arrhythmia (heart beating too quickly) via a painless pacing sequence or a jolt of electricity. It can also act as a pacemaker if the heart is beating too slowly.

Men and women are equally at risk for arrhythmias and the need for an ICD. However, women have different issues regarding ICD. Here is what women want to know about ICDs.

  1. Can I have routine mammograms?

Depending on your ICD placement, the device may interfere with imaging of breast tissue and may require additional testing for optimal results (possible follow-up ultrasound). Further, the presence of an ICD (typically left or right upper chest area), may make the imaging of the breast more uncomfortable, but it will not cause damage to the device. Continue reading

Living with an ICD

University of Michigan Health System promotes ICD peer-mentoring program and a personal connection

Jeanette McDonald - solo blog

Jeanette McDonald’s trip to Yellowstone National Park last September marked the first time in nearly three years this ICD patient was far from medical resources. Today, she is ready to reach out to other patients.

What if you were told you had a condition that required you to have a device implanted in your body to save your life? It would be a hard reality to accept — one filled with uncertainty and fear. But if you met someone who was living with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and had a full, happy life, that person might alleviate some of your fears by sharing their story and proving that life isn’t over — just changing to adapt to a new reality.

This is the concept for a unique peer-mentoring program at the University of Michigan Health System designed to help those facing life-changing procedures, such as an ICD.

The University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center has paired up with the Patient and Family Centered Care (PFCC) Program to pilot peer-mentoring initiatives aimed at helping patients with specific health challenges. The U-M outpatient implantable cardioverter defibrillator clinic has been selected as one of the first five sites to pilot such a program. Continue reading

Walk for heart health!

Get ready now for National Walking Day on April 1 - and say welcome to spring!

women walking blog

Get started now for a healthy walking routine all spring and summer long.

It’s the first day of spring — and what better way to welcome this much-anticipated season than to get outside and walk? Walking is great for many reasons, especially if you find yourself sitting at a desk all day. That applies to quite a few of us because, according to the American Heart Association, sedentary jobs have increased 83 percent since 1950. So it’s important to get moving during lunch, after work and on weekends for heart health and overall well-being. 

Get started by gearing up for National Walking Day on April 1. Then, make a commitment to incorporate walking into your daily routine.

Pick up the pace

According to the AHA, walking can help keep you fit, enhance your immune system and reduce your risk of serious diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and more. Moderate exercise, including brisk walking for as little as 30 minutes a day, can help:

  • Lower your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. In fact, becoming more active can lower your blood pressure by as much as 4 to 9 mm Hg — the same reduction in blood pressure delivered by some antihypertensive medications. Physical activity can also boost your levels of good cholesterol. Continue reading

Celebrate green!

Get in the St. Patrick’s Day mood with spinach pesto dip

green recipe blogToday is St. Patrick’s Day, so why not add a touch of green to your day — whether you’re Irish or not! U-M Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Susan Ryskamp suggests this tasty, heart-healthy spinach pesto dip to help you celebrate “green.”


  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • ⅛ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¾ cup all natural, low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ½ cup Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted until browned (optional)
  • ¼ cup carrot, grated and firmly packed
  • 3 cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped and firmly packed (add more spinach for a thicker dip)

Continue reading

Summer legs … can you ‘bare’ them?

The U-M Vein Center specialists treat spider and varicose veins to improve the health and look of your legs

water legs blogWe know it’s chilly outside now, but summer is on its way! Your legs have probably been covered up, trying to stay warm for the last several months. But now is the time to take a look and start thinking about the shorts and sandals season. Start thinking about summer legs!

If you have spider veins that don’t go with your summer wardrobe, there’s a solution. The University of Michigan Vein Centers in Livonia and Troy can help you get your legs ready for summer. The key is to act now because it typically requires more than one treatment and results are best after 6-8 weeks.

Our U-M Vein Center team can help with vein issues ranging from spider veins and swelling to painful varicose veins. Most spider veins and varicose veins can be treated with sclerotherapy. Some varicose veins require endovenous ablation. Endovenous ablation is a popular alternative to the historical stripping procedure; it is minimally invasive and done right in the office. We work with you, and together we create an individualized treatment plan that is best for you.

Take the next step:

  • Schedule your appointment with a vein specialist: Call 734-432-7662 (Livonia) or 248-205-1980 (Troy).

Cummings_EmilyEmily Cummings, M.D., is a board certified physician currently specializing in venous disease and is a member of the American Venous Forum and the American College of Phlebology.

Five tips for heart-healthy eating

U-M nutritionists share favorite tips on Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist Day

fruit veggie heart blogThe theme for this year’s Nutrition Month (throughout March) is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.” In honor of this, as well as today’s Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist Day, we asked the U-M Cardiovascular Nutrition Team to share tips for heart-healthy eating. Here’s what they had to say …

1. There’s no one size fits all

“Diets abound, from vegetarian to meat-based, from low carb to ‘the right carb’ — and everything in between. The truth is, the same diet is not right for everyone. When it comes to the best eating pattern, there is no ‘one size fits all.’ Our genetics, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol values and blood sugar are just a few of the measures that can guide us to learn the best eating pattern for each of us individually. Working with a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist is one way to learn the best eating pattern for you.” — Kathy Rhodes, PhD, RDN Continue reading