81-year-old TAVR patient’s road to recovery

A remarkable woman shares her inspiring journey to good health

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The Edwards SAPIEN 3 Transcatheter Heart Valve

Shirley Clarkson is a remarkable woman with a strong will to live. At age 81, she has undergone a multitude of health issues. This is her story of survival, thanks to recent progressions in medicine.

In 1998, Shirley was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and was treated with high does of radiation. Despite aggressive treatment, she overcame difficult odds and was able to get back to an active lifestyle that included regular workouts and miles of daily walks.

Some 10 years later Shirley’s general practitioner discovered a heart murmur during an echocardiogram and recommended she be seen at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. Here, Dr. Michael Shea diagnosed her with aortic stenosis, a narrowing of the aortic valve opening, likely caused by radiation treatment. Continue reading

Warfarin or Pradaxa? Making the choice.

Dr. Geoffrey Barnes weighs the pros and cons of atrial fibrillation meds

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Atrial fibrillation (also know as Afib) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clotsstroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. According to the American Heart Association, approximately 2.7 million Americans are living with Afib.

Atrial fibrillation has long been treated with the blood thinner Coumadin, also known as warfarin, which was approved by the FDA in 1954. However, new blood thinners, or anticoagulants, to treat Afib have come on the market in the last six years, including one known as Pradaxa. Continue reading

Get a handle on holiday drinking

Moderation is key to safe celebrations

holiday drinking blog

You’re out with friends enjoying a few holiday cocktails when you suddenly feel lightheaded and need to sit down. You might not realize it, but you’re experiencing the effects of alcohol on your vascular system.

In addition to being a depressant, alcohol dilates the blood vessels. So, when you’re standing at a party or social setting, blood often pools in the vessels in your feet instead of being pumped back to the heart.

The result can be feelings of lightheadedness, nausea and over-heating (known as pre-syncope), which are exacerbated by alcohol. To prevent these symptoms, minimize alcohol intake and move around to encourage blood flow to the heart, thus reducing your chances of passing out entirely.

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Groundbreaking app for atrial fibrillation patients

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A new app designed to monitor symptoms associated with atrial fibrillation, or Afib, is being evaluated as part of a University of Michigan study. Developed by U-M cardiologist Dr. Hamid Ghanbari, “miAfib” allows patients to more accurately communicate their atrial fibrillation symptoms in real time.

Tracking Afib sypmtoms

Atrial fibrillation is the most prevalent major arrhythmia in the United States. It can lead to an increased risk of stroke, congestive heart failure and overall mortality. What is much less certain, says Dr. Ghanbari, is the association between Afib symptoms, affect and heart rhythm on a daily basis. Continue reading

Goodbye to blood-thinners?

Breakthrough treatment for Afib might be right for you

Afib-Blog_resizedAtrial fibrillation, or Afib, is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, resulting in a fast or irregular heart rhythm among more than 5 million Americans. Afib is traditionally treated with blood-thinners or anticoagulants such as warfarin, but a new device, recently approved by the FDA, is changing the way Afib is treated.

The WATCHMAN™ Left Arial Appendage Closure Device offers patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment option that could free them from the challenges of long-term warfarin therapy.

The Frankel Cardiovascular Center is among the first heart centers in the nation to use the WATCHMAN Device. With stroke being one of the most feared consequences of Afib, the WATCHMAN Device has proved to be a viable alternative to blood-thinning medications, which are not well-tolerated by some patients and have a significant risk for bleeding complications. Continue reading

Atrial fibrillation triggers

Afib can be difficult to diagnose because of varying symptoms

99146355 450x320Atrial fibrillation, also known as Afib, is an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that starts in the atria, or the upper chambers of the heart. According to the American Heart Association, an estimated 2.7 million Americans are living with Afib.

Although many atrial fibrillation triggers are common, each person’s experience is unique. So, being aware of your condition, along with your ability to identify the triggers that can potentially cause an episode, are important in helping you control atrial fibrillation symptoms, which may include:

  • Fluttering, racing or pounding of the heart
  • Dizzy or lightheaded feeling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Chest discomfort

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