Playing a new tune after heart failure and heart transplant (VIDEO)

Scot Cannell shares his journey through heart failure at U-M

Band teacher Scot Cannell, 50, and his cardiologists at the University of Michigan would come up with a solution at each low point in treating his heart disease:  an implantable cardiac defibrillator to keep his heart rhythm in check, then a left ventricular assist device to support his weakened heart.

In life and in Cannell’s world of music, hitting the high notes often takes hard work. Three years after being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, Cannell’s best option for living was a heart transplant.

“I had no family history of heart disease and I found myself in need of a new heart,” says Cannell, of Saline, Mich., a husband and father of three. “I dealt with it all with great support and humor whenever we could.

“The scariest part was hearing during the transplant evaluation that I had end stage heart failure. A nurse could see it upset me and she put a hand on my shoulder and told me, ‘End stage heart disease is just what it’s called. It doesn’t mean the end is here.’ ” Continue reading

The 2014 flu shot: What’s new and why get it now

vaccine imageNow is a great time to roll up your sleeve because the flu vaccine takes two weeks to kick in, says Elizabeth Jones, M.D., a family physician at the University of Michigan Health System’s Livonia Health Center. Everyone 6 months of age and older is encouraged to get their yearly flu vaccine, ideally in the fall.

More must-know flu season information

Needle-free season for kids. New this year, the nasal spray vaccine has become the preferred flu vaccine for healthy children ages 2-8. Studies suggest it may work better than a flu shot in younger children. But don’t delay getting vaccinated to find the nasal spray vaccine, Jones says.

A boost for seniors. Adults age 65 and older, there’s an alternative for you: a high-dose vaccine that new research shows is 24 percent more effective at preventing flu. As we age our immune system Continue reading

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

New warfarin and Coumadin alternatives

Is one of the new anticoagulants right for you?

row of bottlesand pills

New anticoagulant medications for patients with afib can be effective alternatives to warfarin (Coumadin and Jantoven).

The American Heart Association reports that more than two million Americans have atrial fibrillation, a rhythmic disorder of the heart where the atria (the heart’s pumping chambers) quiver instead of beat. Because of the risk of stroke and systemic embolism associated with atrial fibrillation, patients are often prescribed anticoagulation medication to prevent these secondary adverse outcomes. The most common medication is warfarin, also known as Coumadin® or Jantoven®.

Three new medications approved for afib patients

However, three new anticoagulants have recently been approved by the Food and Drug Administration: dabigatran (Pradaxa®), rivaroxaban (Xarelto®) and apixaban (Eliquis®). This means that warfarin, Jantoven® and Coumadin® alternatives are now available for patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation who need an anticoagulant. While these new medications do not require routine lab monitoring as warfarin does, patients may pay higher medication copays, depending on insurance coverage, says Brian Kurtz, clinical pharmacist, University of Michigan Cardiovascular Medicine.

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Atrial fibrillation – what you need to know

Causes, symptoms and treatments of afib vary

red-heart-stethoscopeAtrial fibrillation (a-tree-uhl fih-bruh-lay-shun), or “afib” (ay-fib), is an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that starts in the upper parts (atria) of the heart. A common type of arrhythmia in those over the age of 60, “atrial fibrillation is being diagnosed with increasing prevalence,” says Michele Derheim, director of clinical operations at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center and a registered nurse. “The quicker you’re treated for an afib condition, the better your chances are for good cardiovascular health.”

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