5 ways smoking hurts your heart


University of Michigan cardiologist Dr. G. Michael Deeb wants his patients to know something: Nicotine is toxic not only to the lungs but also to the heart. “When most patients think of the dangers of smoking, they think about the lungs,” says Dr. Deeb. “But cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in Michigan, and smoking is accelerating the problem.”

According to the American Heart Association, as many as 30 percent of all coronary heart disease deaths in the United States each year are attributable to cigarette smoking, and the more you smoke, the greater your risk. But even people who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day can have early signs of cardiovascular disease. Continue reading

Groundbreaking app for atrial fibrillation patients

miafib app

A new app designed to monitor symptoms associated with atrial fibrillation, or Afib, is being evaluated as part of a University of Michigan study. Developed by U-M cardiologist Dr. Hamid Ghanbari, “miAfib” allows patients to more accurately communicate their atrial fibrillation symptoms in real time.

Tracking Afib sypmtoms

Atrial fibrillation is the most prevalent major arrhythmia in the United States. It can lead to an increased risk of stroke, congestive heart failure and overall mortality. What is much less certain, says Dr. Ghanbari, is the association between Afib symptoms, affect and heart rhythm on a daily basis. Continue reading

Heart health and depression

Some things that might surprise you


Depression and heart disease blogThe American Heart Association reports that while an estimated 10 percent of Americans ages 18 and older acknowledge depression, up to 33 percent of heart attack patients develop some degree of depression.

Dr. Michelle Riba, professor of psychiatry and associate chair for U-M’s Integrated Medical and Psychiatric Services in the Department of Psychiatry and associate director of the U-M Comprehensive Depression Center, takes it a step further: “It’s very complicated,” she says, noting that “almost every major cardiac condition has psychological issues that need to be addressed.” Monitoring a heart patient’s mental health is just as important as treating his or her physical condition, she says.

It gets even more complicated, says Dr. Riba, because not only can cardiovascular disease lead to depression, but also depression can lead to cardiovascular disease. “It’s bidirectional.”

According to research in the Journal of the American Heart Association, persistent depression may double the risk of stroke in adults over 50. What’s more, new research in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes (American Heart Association journal) reports that the combination of stress and depression can significantly increase a heart patient’s risk of death or heart attack. Continue reading

Goodbye to blood-thinners?

Breakthrough treatment for Afib might be right for you

Afib-Blog_resizedAtrial fibrillation, or Afib, is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, resulting in a fast or irregular heart rhythm among more than 5 million Americans. Afib is traditionally treated with blood-thinners or anticoagulants such as warfarin, but a new device, recently approved by the FDA, is changing the way Afib is treated.

The WATCHMAN™ Left Arial Appendage Closure Device offers patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment option that could free them from the challenges of long-term warfarin therapy.

The Frankel Cardiovascular Center is among the first heart centers in the nation to use the WATCHMAN Device. With stroke being one of the most feared consequences of Afib, the WATCHMAN Device has proved to be a viable alternative to blood-thinning medications, which are not well-tolerated by some patients and have a significant risk for bleeding complications. Continue reading

Peripheral artery disease: What you should know

The connection between diabetes, leg pain and PAD

arterial disease blog

The many symptoms of PAD include a cramping in the leg or calf muscles while walking.

Peripheral artery disease, or PAD, is a disease of the peripheral arteries, most commonly in the pelvis and legs, in which plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to your head, organs and limbs. Over time, plaque can harden and narrow the arteries, thus limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your organs and other parts of your body.

The more you understand about the condition and symptoms, the more you’ll be able to protect your health. For example, diabetes often goes hand in hand with PAD, which results in a decrease of blood flow to the legs and feet. This can result in inadequate blood flow to heal a foot sore or wound.

Patients with diabetes and PAD are more likely to have healing complications, infection and, in the most extreme cases, amputation. Although having diabetes puts you at a greater risk of developing PAD, anyone can be diagnosed with the disease. According to the American Heart Association, those who smoke, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol are also at risk for PAD.

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Breakthrough heart failure drug: Is it right for you?

Entresto shows benefits over traditional treatment for heart failure patients

game changer blogHeart failure is a debilitating and life-threatening condition affecting nearly six million people in the United States. In patients with heart failure, the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s nutrition and oxygen needs. The blood begins to back up and, as a result, the veins, tissues and lungs become congested with fluid.

Heart failure patients face a high risk of repeated hospitalizations and symptoms such as fatigue, loss of breath and fluid retention, all significantly impacting their quality of life. These patients also face the risk of death.

But now there’s a new heart failure drug, known as Entresto, bringing hope to many of these patients. Approval of Entresto came six weeks ahead of the FDA’s priority review action date, allowing it to be available to patients in the United States sooner than anticipated. Continue reading