Honor “Mr. Hockey” by sharpening your stroke knowledge

Gordie Howe's severe stroke should remind all fans of what they can do to cut risk & respond quickly, says U-M Comprehensive Stroke Program doctor

Gordie Howe

Gordie Howe, at the December 2013 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic in Detroit.

Hockey fans everywhere are sending their thoughts and prayers to Gordie Howe this week, as the legendary “Mr. Hockey” battles the effects of a stroke.

But there’s something more that all fans, and their loved ones, can do to honor Howe, says the head of the University of Michigan’s Comprehensive Stroke Program.

Take this time to play defense against a stroke, and know what to do when you or someone around you suffers one.

Eric Adelman, M.D., the U-M stroke neurologist who helps lead a U-M team that has the highest level of stroke accreditation in the U.S., took a moment to discuss what fans can do. Continue reading

The PALB2 gene

An update on cancer risks and indications for referral for genetic counseling

PALB2 geneThe PALB2 gene, which is also called the partner and localizer of BRCA2, is a gene that contributes to inherited susceptibility to breast cancer and perhaps ovarian and pancreatic cancers. The PALB2 gene contains the directions for making a protein that acts together with the BRCA2 protein. When they are functioning normally, these two genes work together as tumor suppressors.

How does cancer start at the genetic level?

Most cancers occur when two mutations in a tumor suppressor gene occur in a single cell during a person’s lifetime. Some individuals inherit an altered copy of a tumor suppressor gene. If a second mutation occurs in the tumor suppressor gene in any cell of their body, a tumor may develop. Since they already have an altered tumor suppressor gene in all of the cells of their body, individuals with an inherited mutation in a tumor suppressor gene are more likely to develop cancer.

Cancer due to an inherited alteration in a tumor suppressor gene is more likely to occur at a younger age (for example, Continue reading

Blueberries and heart health

blueberrie blogFall is the season for pumpkins, apples and … blueberries? While summer is long gone, there are plenty of reasons to keep these heart-healthy berries on the fall menu. In fact, blueberries and heart health go hand in hand.

Color me healthy

Blueberries contain high amounts of brightly colored pigments called anthocyanins, which deliver a number of benefits for heart health. While other berries such as strawberries and cranberries contain anthocyanins as well, blueberries contain an especially high amount. These powerhouse pigments may help to reduce blood pressure, lower “bad” cholesterol and keep arteries healthy. Eating berries has even been shown to decrease the risk of death from heart disease.

Lose the (oxidative) stress

Cell damage from oxidative stress can lead to a number of conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease. Anthocyanins function as strong antioxidants; they can protect against damage to cells and DNA. The antioxidant compounds found in blueberries lower inflammation and decrease oxidative stress — both of which help to protect heart health.

The whole package

Why not just pop a pill to get your daily dose of anthocyanins? Well, blueberries offer a number of benefits apart from that one compound. They are low in calories, high in fiber and rich in a number of vitamins and minerals. Plus, different components found in blueberries may work in concert to help the body absorb and utilize all of the berry’s heart-healthy components.


Blueberry Apple Walnut Crisp

Even though it may be hard to find fresh blueberries now, frozen berries work well for baking and cooking — and are just as healthy as fresh! Reap the benefits of berries with this heart-healthy recipe:

  • 2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 large apples, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Whisk the brown sugar, flour, vanilla and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add apples and blueberries; toss to coat. Place mixture in an 8 x 8-inch baking dish.
  3. For the topping, combine the walnuts, oats, brown sugar, whole wheat flour, flaxseed, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Add the canola oil and mix well.
  4. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit mixture. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until the fruit is tender and the topping is golden brown. If topping begins to brown too quickly, cover with foil.

Emily_PhotoEmily Shoemaker, MPH, is a dietetic intern for Cardiovascular Medicine at Domino’s Farms. Emily received her Master’s in Public Health from the University of Michigan School of Public Health.




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.

Diabetes apps for your smartphone

Join us at the Diabetes Health Fair Nov. 8

AppsBlogImage.fwIn recognition of November’s World Diabetes Day, here are two smartphone diabetes apps designed to help you track, analyze and manage your numbers.

Diabetes: Glucose Buddy by GlucoseBuddy.com

  • Features: This app helps manage diabetes by tracking glucose readings that are entered four times a day, along with food consumed, exercise and medication. There’s also an alarm that reminds you to take your glucose readings. You can even write notes to explain unusual circumstances, such as high-carbohydrate meals. Data can be uploaded to glucosebuddy.com for a more detailed analysis.
  • Operating System: iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch
  • Cost: Free

Continue reading

Empowering young adults to own their healthcare

Teen transition to adult healthcareFrom the day your child was born, you’ve most likely been managing every aspect of his or her healthcare — scheduling appointments, filling prescriptions, making sure immunizations are current. As your children get older, it’s important that we as parents play a role in empowering young adults to own their healthcare.

Start early

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the University of Michigan Health System recommend that young adults transition to adult care between the ages of 18 and 21 years old. Start preparing for this transition when your child is 14 or 15. Help your child understand his personal and your family’s health history. Have him fill out any health history forms under your supervision so you can discuss any health history.

Continue reading

Cancer prehabilitation

Steps you can take to prep for cancer treatment

cancer prehabilitationCancer prehabilitation, or prehab, is the process of improving a patient’s emotional and physical health in anticipation of upcoming treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. It occurs between the time of a cancer diagnosis and the beginning of treatment.

Although not a new concept to medicine, it’s becoming an emerging component in cancer care. Preparing for the physical and emotional aspects of cancer treatment can improve outcomes and minimize side effects associated with cancer treatment. Continue reading