Loeys-Dietz syndrome: one family’s story

Learning to live with this genetic connective tissue disorder

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Dr. Rosemary Batanjski knows firsthand about Loeys-Dietz syndrome (LDS), a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissue in the body and often involves the aorta. She was diagnosed with the syndrome, along with many family members, including her own two children, her sister and two children, as well as her father (who died at age 43), aunt and cousin Nik (who passed away at age 31).

Dr. Batanjski’s grandmother also passed away in her late 40s, although a Loeys-Dietz diagnosis did not exist at the time. In fact, the syndrome was identified only 10 years ago. Until the discovery, many Loeys-Dietz patients were thought to have Marfan syndrome, a similar connective tissue disorder. Continue reading

Get to know your heart

The heart is a miraculous muscle. It does more work than any other muscle in your body, continuing a steady beat as it pumps blood to all of your organs, minute after minute, day after day. But how much do you really know about your heart?

In celebration of American Heart Month, the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center wants to help you get to know your heart by sharing 13 interesting and perhaps surprising facts …

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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.

Heart doctor runs his daily commute

Dr. Steven Bolling sets an example for patients by running to work everyday

 

Steven Bolling, M.D., a heart surgeon at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, who like the rest of us tries to fit in some daily exercise — has been running to work every day for the past 30 years. It’s physical activity and it’s stress relief for the 60-year-old who fixes faulty heart valves.

He’s one of the busiest mitral valve surgeons in the country, helping patients whose hearts are forced to work harder when their mitral valve isn’t working properly. The operations take three to four hours and he usually does two cases a day.

Before hitting the road for his 6-mile run, he shared a few thoughts about his routine:

Athletic as a kid

As a kid I was a swimmer. When I pulled myself out of the pool I figured I’d better do something to stay active so I started running. I’ve basically run every day since then: college, medical school, residency and now that I’m on the faculty (as a professor of cardiac surgery).

My Zen moment

My motivation to go to work running is basically that it’s my Zen moment. I really take that time out and that’s when I think about stuff.

Practice what I preach

Some of my patients know that I run to work every day and they think it’s fascinating. They think it’s great that I’m getting in cardio every day. To practice what you preach is a good philosophy. I don’t know that running to work every day is practical for everyone, but doctors really should be examples for our patients.

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Steven_Fredric_Bolling_headshotSteven Bolling, M.D., is the medical director of the U-M Mitral Valve Clinic. After earning a medical degree at the University of Michigan Medical School, he completed his surgical residency and cardiothoracic surgery training at Johns Hopkins. At the U-M, he leads cardio-protective lab research and tests minimally invasive strategies for treating mitral valve disease and tricuspid valve replacement.

U-M LVAD patient lives a full life while awaiting heart transplant

Catching up with LaVishia McDonald about life with a left ventricular assist device

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LaVishia McDonald had already given birth to five children, so when her sixth child was born in 2008, she knew her symptoms and extreme fatigue weren’t normal. “I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t breathe. My legs were swollen. I knew something was very wrong,” she remembers.

When her condition didn’t improve, LaVishia’s primary doctor, who suspected a heart condition, recommended she be seen at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. Continue reading

FMD: Racing toward an answer

Motivated patients make a difference in demystifying fibromuscular dysplasia

Pam_Mace_blogAfter suffering a stroke at age 37, Pam Mace, of Gross Ile, learned she had a disease she’d never heard of: fibromuscular dysplasia. The diagnosis would inspire her to start a movement around the hidden threat to middle-aged women.

FMD is a little-known form of vascular disease that puts people at risk for artery blockages, stroke, coronary artery dissection and aneurysm. Because the signs and symptoms are so vague – high blood pressure, headache and swooshing in the ears – it can take years to get the right diagnosis. Continue reading

Cardiac rehab myths: Why some patients don’t follow through

U-M Celebrates National Cardiac Rehabilitation Week, Feb. 14 - 20

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If you’ve had heart surgery or another heart-related procedure, cardiac rehab is likely an important part of your recovery. But national statistics reveal only 10 to 20 percent of those eligible for cardiac rehab actually participate in a program.

Here are some of the cardiac rehab myths that often prevent heart patients from following through:

Myth: I’m not sure rehab is safe for me.

Fact: Some patients shy away from rehab because they’re afraid they are not physically ready. The University of Michigan Cardiac Rehabilitation Program begins with a comprehensive screening process that allows us to catch potential health issues early. That means everyone who is deemed eligible to participate has been fully evaluated. Our staff members are fully educated with extensive cardiac care experience and a focus on safe rehab. Continue reading