Wrapping up heart month: Three women share their joy, straight from the heart

A look back at how three U-M patients are doing today

As we near the end of Heart Month, here’s a look back at some of the patients who shared their U-M experiences with us in 2014. All three have a story to tell about the joy in their hearts, thanks in part to the doctors at the University of Michigan.

Baby Ethan is thriving

Ethan 1 blog

Baby Ethan, with brother Emiliano, is thriving.

Last May, a special team joined hundreds of U-M employees on the campus of Eastern Michigan University for the American Heart Association’s 2014 Washtenaw County Heart Walk/5K Run. This effort to help fight heart disease and stroke was particularly meaningful for the team named  “Ethan’s Emissaries.”

The 26-member group was walking in honor of an unborn child who had been diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, a rare condition in which the left ventricle of the heart is severely underdeveloped. Ethan was born May 22, just 12 days after the walk in his honor.

Today, according to his mother, Betty Esquivel, a medical assistant in U-M’s bone marrow transplant clinic, he is thriving. As expected, Ethan has faced several operations, including surgery four days after birth for a heart shunt and again five months later to remove the shunt, which he had outgrown.

Betty says Ethan requires extra precautions to keep him from getting a cold or virus, which could affect his heart. Otherwise, he’s doing even better than U-M doctors originally thought. “He’s gaining weight and isn’t too far behind in his development,” Betty says proudly.

Betty, her husband Andres and their two-year-old son Emiliano have welcomed Ethan into the family with open arms, thankful for the joy this special child has brought to their lives.

Read more about Ethan’s story. Continue reading

Atrial fibrillation patient Jason Henning is riding strong

Catheter ablation results in increased endurance

jason blogThere was a time in Jason Henning’s life when riding a bike might have been a challenge due to atrial fibrillation. Today, he’s sharing stories of last summer’s 700-mile bike riding season across Michigan, Florida and Missouri. And he’s making plans for the upcoming 2015 riding season — which includes his fourth Pedal Across Lower Michigan (PALM) ride — confident he’ll be faster and stronger this year.

That’s because Jason recently underwent a catheter ablation at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. He’s hoping the results will show close to 100 improvement in his A-fib condition. Ablation is a minimally invasive, catheter-based procedure performed on an outpatient basis to treat atrial fibrillation. Continue reading

Heart of a Hunter: Effects of alcohol on the heart

Moderation beats binge drinking during hunting season

Sitting around the campfire and rehashing the day’s hunting feats (or lack of them) often happens with a cold beer or other alcoholic drink in hand. Just be careful not to overdo it.

AlcoholBlogImage.fwConsuming alcohol in moderation, along with an overall healthy lifestyle, is acceptable for most people, says Dr. Michael Shea, who specializes in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease at the University of Michigan Health System. “Too much alcohol can cause direct damage to heart cells as well as nutritional and vitamin deficiencies,” he says.

In addition to being a depressant, alcohol dilates the blood vessels. Alcohol consumption, and particularly “binge” drinking can also lead to electrical conduction issues in the heart, a condition known as atrial fibrillation or “afib”.

The American Heart Association (AHA) advises moderation in drinking — in any environment. An average of one or two drinks per day is considered moderate for men; one drink per day for women.

Continue reading

Atrial fibrillation – what you need to know

Causes, symptoms and treatments of afib vary

red-heart-stethoscopeAtrial fibrillation (a-tree-uhl fih-bruh-lay-shun), or “afib” (ay-fib), is an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that starts in the upper parts (atria) of the heart. A common type of arrhythmia in those over the age of 60, “atrial fibrillation is being diagnosed with increasing prevalence,” says Michele Derheim, director of clinical operations at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center and a registered nurse. “The quicker you’re treated for an afib condition, the better your chances are for good cardiovascular health.”

Continue reading