TAVR aortic valve replacement helps 95-year-old thrive

University of Michigan TAVR patient celebrates another Christmas

Joe S photo 2 blog

Joe Solak is happy to celebrate his 95th Christmas this year with his daughter, son-in-law, two sons and three grandchildren.

Joe Solak will celebrate his 95th Christmas this year, thanks to the Transcutaneous Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) he received at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center for his aortic stenosis.

Aortic stenosis is a condition in which the aortic valve does not open fully, decreasing blood flow from the heart to the body. Although open-heart surgery is the treatment of choice for aortic stenosis, about one-third of patients with this disease are not candidates for the surgery and stand to benefit from less invasive heart valve replacement options.

Joe was one of these patients. His age and heart history, including bypass surgery in 1995 and a congestive heart failure condition, put him at high risk for open-heart surgery. According to Joe’s daughter, Donna Ruemenapp, her dad just wanted to feel better. “He was tired, short of breath and couldn’t sleep due to congestive heart failure.” And while his former doctor recommended treating his symptoms rather pursuing other options, Joe and Donna weren’t about to give up.

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Coping with cancer at the holidays

holidays and cancerThe holiday season brings joy and cheer to many, but what if you are dealing with cancer or recently lost a loved one? This time can also bring on pain and sadness.

It can sometimes feel wrong to be down when everyone around is sharing stories of happiness and pleasure. Expect to have some emotional pain. When the feelings come, let them. Talk about your feelings and let people know if you are having a tough day. This will allow others to support you better. Accept a few invitations to be close with family or friends. Choose the ones that sound most appealing to you at Continue reading

Mild memory & thinking issues: What works, what doesn’t?

U-M experts weigh the evidence to help doctors & patients navigate mild cognitive impairment

memory finger string blogFor up to one in five Americans over age 65, getting older brings memory and thinking problems– along with the embarrassment of not being as “sharp” as they once were, and the worry that it will get much worse.

They might just call it “getting older”. But officially, when memory or cognitive problems don’t interfere significantly with daily living, doctors call them mild cognitive impairment, or MCI.

What can be done to prevent or slow MCI? And how much should seniors fear that their thinking or memory problems will get much worse?

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Not missing prom: How rehab helped high school athlete find new normal after accident

At 16, Julia Covill suffered a traumatic brain injury and other serious injuries that led her on a journey to re-learning to walk, talk and run again

Julia Covill (2nd from left) and friends posing for prom pictures in 2012

Julia Covill (2nd from left) and friends posing for prom pictures in 2012

The Pediatric NeuroRehabilitation program at Milestones is celebrating 25 years of service. Mary Covill shares her daughter’s story

For our daughter Julia, prom night 2012 wasn’t just a rite of passage – it was a milestone we weren’t sure would ever be possible. Except for the walker at her side, you wouldn’t know that the smiling teenager in the purple, strapless dress, arms wrapped around friends while posing for pictures, couldn’t walk or remember everyday words just months earlier.

Some seemingly ordinary moments are forever seared into a parent’s memory. For us, that’s the afternoon of Feb.11, 2012 as Julia left for a friend’s house to get ready for a winter dance. I remember warning her it was supposed to snow. I remember telling her to drive slowly.

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Fatigue busters for cancer-related fatigue

cancer-related fatigueWe all experience fatigue, but cancer-related fatigue can be particularly distressing as it oftentimes is not relieved with sleep and rest. Approximately 80% – 100% of patients with cancer experience fatigue, and it’s the most common side effect experienced by cancer patients.

With the holidays upon us, it’s the season for socializing and spending time with family and friends. With it can come a flurry of activity that can wear out the most energetic of individuals. Finding a balance is especially important for those with a diagnosis of cancer. Continue reading

Eighty-seven-year-old shares her experience with peripheral arterial disease

Maxine Kilkoin is walking proud

Maxine Kilkoin blog

Despite PAD, Maxine Kilkoin enjoys the simple things in life, like spending time with her granddaughter.

An artificial limb hasn’t slowed Maxine Kilkoin down. In fact, she’s doing more today than ever, thanks to the treatment she received at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. The 87-year-old says the doctors at U-M helped her keep her leg for five years after her prior physician recommended it be removed due to peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

PAD is a condition, or set of conditions, caused by the blockage or narrowing of the body’s large peripheral arteries. Lack of proper blood flow to the legs is very common in this condition. An estimated one in 20 Americans over the age of 50 has PAD and between 12 and 20 percent of Americans age 65 and older suffers from the disease. Continue reading