Top stories from 2015

Making discovering, helping our neighbors and people across the globe battle heart disease

This year the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center continued to lead a treatment transformation in heart valve replacement, made new discoveries, and gave hope to our neighbors and people across the globe who are battling cardiovascular disease. These stories reflect a fundamental truth: Every step forward is a step we take together. Best wishes for a happy, healthy 2016!

UMHS10545YearInReview_blueTAVR ticker hits 600

It’s been a treatment transformation: fixing heart valves without surgery for patients with stiffened and narrowed aortic valves. The cardiac teams at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center have performed more transcatheter aortic valve replacements than most hospitals in the country. That’s 600 lives changed and counting.

From Egypt to Ann Arbor

Nassef Matoshaleh, and his wife, Wafaa, explored a handful of hospitals in the world – including the U.K., Germany, France and Canada and the U.S. — for aortic surgery. Their small family prayed the trip to the U-M to treat Nassef’s ascending aortic aneurysm would bring him back home. And it did. “The U-M team worked like an orchestra… to get out the most beautiful symphony you could ever hear. It’s like the symphony of life,” says Wafaa.

Back in the game

Without a human heart, Stanley Larkin visited a water park this summer and plays basketball with family and friends. Born with a heart defect, he’s spent a year with a Syncardia total artificial heart, the first person to leave a Michigan hospital without a heart and putting him in a rare group of patients worldwide using the device. A backpack-sized power supply keeps the technology — and Stanley — going until he gets a heart transplant.

Seeing double at the CVC

Twins enjoyed comic confusion at the CVC which was home to three sets of identical twins. Fourth year medical students – Corey Foster and Ben Foster – completed their rotations at the CVC. Courtney Clark and Rachel Scheich are both nurse practitioners in the CVC ICU. We miss seeing Mike Ranella every day, but we can see a familiar face in the device clinic where his twin brother Paul works.

Lacrosse star plays on with pulmonary hypertension.

Since her diagnosis with pulmonary hypertension, a rare heart condition that interferes with blood flow to the lungs, U-M graduate Katie Mezwa says she’s focusing on living a normal 22-year-old life. Her post diagnosis life included playing for the University of Michigan Womens Club Lacrosse team as the team earned its first national title this spring. Katie earned the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association Division 1 Player of the Year Award.

“To me, that award is a testament to my hard work and dedication and a great reminder that even a heart condition can’t hold me back,” says the 2015 U-M graduate whose future goals involve improving global health.


UMHEALTHThe 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.

Beyond the sticker shock of Warfarin alternatives

Analysis shows costs savings without frequent blood draws and fewer complications

Pills spillDoctors who are worried about the risk of stroke among their patients with the abnormal heart rhythm atrial fibrillation often look to anticoagulants for help – medicines that prevent dangerous blood clots, but can cost a lot.

Cardiovascular specialists at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center looked at the cost of dabigatran (Pradaxa) which is part of the new class of anticoagulants. They are simpler to use and less risky than Warfarin.

Medicare will spend an average of $75,496 to cover the cost of dabigatran for a 65-year-old with Medicare Part D coverage, compared to Warfarin’s cost of about $61,586. Research by the University of Michigan presented at this week’s American Heart Association scientific sessions reveals that in spite of the price tag, the new medicines can be cost-effective.

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Rx for childhood sarcoma survivors: A lifetime of surveillance and screening

sarcoma survivorship

Laurence Baker, D.O. and Monika Leja, M.D. have established the first Sarcoma Survivorship Clinic. It includes pediatric and adult sarcoma experts across all medical disciplines.

A generation ago, despite aggressive surgery that included radical amputation, newly diagnosed patients with a bone or soft tissue sarcoma often died of cancer. Today the vast majority of these patients are cured. But for many teens and young adults who were successfully treated for sarcoma, the future holds uncertainty about achieving or maintaining good health.

Survivors face unique problems and psychosocial challenges related to sarcoma surgery, radiation and chemotherapy that have a major impact on long-term health. Many have a reduced life expectancy.

Heart disease in a 30-year-old is rare; heart disease in a 30-year-old sarcoma survivor is not. In fact, heart disease is the main issue facing sarcoma survivors – nearly a third will develop a cardiac issue after treatment.

Other potential conditions include:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Lipid disorders
  • Kidney failure
  • Anxiety, depression and other mental health problems
  • Sarcoma recurrence
  • Secondary cancer(s)

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Celebrate Go Red for Women: Wear Red, learn your risk for heart disease

Meet three women meeting the challenges of heart disease

Ask women when they’re at risk for heart disease, and they may say they have until after menopause gored.fwto start thinking about their cardiovascular health.

Not only is this wrong, it’s also dangerous because it prevents women from taking signs of heart disease seriously.

“The idea that heart disease is not a major risk for women is the biggest myth we need to counter,” says Claire Duvernoy, M.D., chief of cardiology at VA Ann Arbor Healthcare and an interventional cardiologist at the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center. “The truth is that more women die from cardiovascular disease than all forms of cancer combined.”

The good news is that women can lower their risk for heart disease, and campaigns like Go Red for Women, which celebrates National Wear Red Day, Feb. 7, inspires women to stand together for what is the fight for their lives. Every minute a women dies from heart disease, and 1 in 3 women’s deaths are caused by heart disease.   Continue reading

Time for a digital detox

There’s no doubt about it: our digital world is here to stay. And that means more and more multi-ElectronicsBLOG.fwtasking, reacting, responding, connecting — often around the clock. No wonder we’re stressed!

In today’s world of non-stop electronic information and entertainment, “unplugging” might seem like an impossible challenge, but it can be done.

Although many of us claim not to be addicted to our smartphones, tablets, Facebook and Twitter accounts, the reality is that we often develop a certain sense of security in having ready access to them. However, many of us would do well to give ourselves permission to take a break from the cluttered and fragmented electronic world, particularly at night.  It’s time for a digital detox! Continue reading

Snoring and its link to heart disease

Annoying habit raises risk for hypertension, stroke, heart attacks

 

Men more than women are at risk for sleep problems that raise the risk for hypertension, stroke, heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues.

Men more than women are at risk for sleep problems that raise the risk for hypertension, stroke, heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues.

Heavy snoring can sound funny to your sleep partner and annoy them terribly, but it is no joke. It is often the sign of a condition called obstructive sleep apnea, which we now know raises the risk for diabetes, obesity, hypertension, strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.

People with obstructive sleep apnea stop breathing for 10-20 seconds while they sleep, and this can occur from a few to hundreds of time a night. Snoring doesn’t occur in every case of sleep apnea, and all people who snore don’t have sleep apnea, but anyone who is told they snore should consider obstructive sleep apnea as a possible cause. Continue reading