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Good sleep habits and heart health

Are you a healthy sleeper?

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Studies show that not getting enough sleep or getting poor quality sleep on a regular basis increases the risk of high blood pressure, weight gain, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Good sleep habits and heart health go hand in hand. While the body rests during sleep, the brain remains active to produce hormones that promote growth and repair cells and tissue, fight infections and help the body control hunger.

While sleep needs vary from person to person, most adults need seven to eight hours each night. School-aged children and teens function best with at least nine hours of sleep each night; preschoolers, 10 to 12 hours. Continue reading

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Overcoming anxiety about the colonoscopy

Learning the facts can reduce your fear factor of this important cancer detection tool

colonoscopy anxietyFor many, the thought of having a colonoscopy can cause dismay and distress. I’ve known people who have procrastinated having a colonoscopy for years because of the fear and anxiety surrounding this procedure. The following are some concerns and myths, along with the facts about this important screening test.

Concern: I’m afraid I will be awake or in pain for this procedure.

FACT: The vast majority of patients are adequately sedated for this procedure and experience no pain or memory of the procedure. Something called conscious sedation is given. These medicines are given through an intravenous injection and they relax you and block pain. It’s not general anesthesia; therefore, you recover quickly from its effects. Continue reading

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What should U-M medical researchers study next? You can help decide

New WellSpringboard.org site combines crowdsourcing and crowdfunding

Iwsb homepagecropf you wish scientists would figure out a solution for a medical problem you face, or find answers for a loved one who struggles with a health condition, here’s your chance.

The University of Michigan wants your ideas for what its medical researchers should study. You can also lend your voice to ideas suggested by other members of the public, and help them gain steam.

And once a U-M researcher agrees to take up the idea and run with it, you can help make the research happen by donating online or volunteering to take part. U-M will even kick in funds for the hottest ideas.

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The best fish to eat for heart health

Keep up with fish dinners, even after Lent

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Friday night fish fries are in full swing, but when Lent ends, your commitment to eating fish on Fridays doesn’t have to stop …

The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish per week (particularly fatty, or oily, fish) to reduce the risk of death from heart disease and stroke. So why not continue a good thing by keeping fish on your Friday menu?

And, remember, the best fish to eat for heart health is oily fish. Here’s why:

While all fish provide protein and omega-3 fatty acids, salmon and other oily fish — sardines, tuna, mackerel, bluefish, rainbow trout and herring — have the highest amounts. These “good fats” benefit the hearts of healthy people, and those who have, or are at high risk for, cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias), which can lead to sudden death. Omega-3 fatty acids also decrease triglyceride levels, slow growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque and lower blood pressure. Continue reading

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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

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Autologous donation: Can I donate my own blood before cancer surgery?

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If you are facing surgery as treatment for your cancer, you may need a blood transfusion during the surgery. Sometimes people are nervous about receiving another person’s blood. Any blood transfusion may result in minor side effects including fever, chills or hives. Although there is a possibility of a serious reaction, rarely do these occur. Improved donor screening and blood testing procedures have made the nation’s blood supply safer than it has ever been. But there is often the option of making your own blood donation, called an autologous donation, in advance to use during your surgery. Continue reading