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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

salmon

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

Rosemary Batanjski 1[1]

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?

autologous donation
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

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20 ways to fight fatigue in Parkinson’s disease

Parkinsons_fatigueAbout two-thirds of people with Parkinson’s disease report that they feel fatigued or tired. Here are several suggestions for combating fatigue. Try one or several, depending upon your symptoms.

  1. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
  2. Ask your bed partner if you snore. You could have sleep apnea.
  3. Develop good sleep habits by going to bed and waking up at about the same time every day.
  4. Minimize bright screens (TV, iPads, cell phones, etc.) within 1-2 hours of going to bed.
  5. If you are getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, don’t drink water before bed. Continue reading
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From patient to advocate

February 29 is Rare Disease Day

cropped IMG_1244His wife Nancy couldn’t take the snoring anymore, so after a couple of months Dan Nagridge went to ask his doctor if he had sleep apnea.

He ended up at the University of Michigan Health System, with a surprise diagnosis: cancer at the base of his skull. It was chordoma, a slow-growing cancer that’s extremely rare, pushing on the back of Dan’s throat that made him start snoring.

“The cancer starts from tissue that was left when he was forming as an embryo in his mother’s womb,” says Erin McKean, M.D., MBA, a U-M otolaryngologist, or ear, nose and throat doctor, and Dan’s surgeon. “We don’t know why people develop this cancer, so we’re very invested in advancing the research.” Continue reading