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

The long road to heart transplant

U-M patient shares the pain and joy

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Daniel Silverman has faced death more times that he’d like to think about. But through the years — 21 to be exact — and the many heart-related emergencies he’s experienced, he has never once asked: “Why me?”

This 59-year-old heart transplant patient is especially grateful to be alive today, and is thankful for his heart donor and for the cardiovascular team at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. But the road to his successful heart transplant has been a long and difficult one.

From the beginning

Daniel’s heart issues were first discovered during a routine physical in 1995. While living in Chicago, the then 39-year-old was diagnosed with premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) or irregular heartbeats. He had no symptoms at the time and was treated with ACE inhibitors to keep his heart beating at a steady rhythm. Continue reading

Real women, Real stories – Go Red for Women

On Feb. 5 wear red and learn your risk for heart disease

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Heart survivors Jolette Munoz and Sharon Gillon are living stronger.

Heart disease has long been thought of as a men’s issue, when it is actually the leading cause of death in both men and women. In fact, since 1984, more American women than men have died of heart disease.

Women have the power to reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke and the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign offers tips to set you on a heart-healthy path for life. Wear Red on Friday, Feb. 5 to show your support for better prevention, treatment and research of women’s heart disease.

Still need inspiration? Meet amazing women who are in the fight for their lives against heart disease. Continue reading

PVCs could lead to a more serious heart condition

When should you worry about a fluttering heart?

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If you’ve ever had a fluttering heart, or noticed that your heart seems to skip a beat, you might be experiencing premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), a relatively common type of arrhythmia in both adults and children.

PVCs are the result of extra, abnormal heartbeats that begin in the ventricles, or lower pumping chambers, and disrupt your regular heart rhythm, which is controlled by a natural pacemaker known as the sinus node. This natural pacemaker creates electrical impulses that travel across the atria to the ventricles, causing them to contract and pump blood out to your lungs and body in what is known as normal sinus rhythm.

In the case of PVCs, the heart doesn’t actually skip a beat. Instead an extra beat comes sooner than normal. Then there’s typically a pause that causes the next beat to be more forceful, which is what most individuals detect. Although the range differs for each individual, we typically begin to see problems in patients with premature ventricular contractions that comprise 20 percent or more of total heartbeats.

PVCs can be caused by heart disease or scarring that can interfere with the heart’s normal electrical impulses. They can also be triggered by certain medications, alcohol, stress, exercise or caffeine. Continue reading

LVAD patient is living life in “drive”

Sharon Gillon enjoys renewed energy, thanks to a left ventricular assist device

 

Sharon Gillon 2[1]Sharon Gillon might not be test-driving cars anymore, as she did during her career with Chrysler Corporation, but the 73-year-old is raring to go after having a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) implanted in 2013. Sharon says the device has made a remarkable difference in her quality of life, which she now realizes began to decline nearly 15 years ago.

“I noticed some breathing issues in 2000 or possibly even before that, but I didn’t realize anything was wrong,” she says.

Sharon’s health continued to decline for the next few years when she was diagnosed with an arrhythmia, which led to a pacemaker, followed by a pacemaker/defibrillator.

When her breathing worsened and required hospitalization, Sharon’s doctors recommended she be taken by ambulance to the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. After extensive testing, the CVC team, led by Dr. Francis Pagani, determined that Sharon’s failing heart could be strengthened with the assistance of an LVAD. Continue reading

ICD patients: You’re not alone

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An implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD, provides immediate therapy to life-threatening arrhythmias (heart beating too quickly or too slowly) through a painless pacing sequence or a jolt of electricity. Despite its lifesaving capabilities, an ICD may bring questions, fear and anxiety for many patients.

Here are three questions I’m often asked by ICD patients:

Q. What about airport security scanners and other magnetic devices? Will they interact with my ICD?

External electromagnetic or radiofrequency signals can impact an ICD, so patients should not stand in or near the doorway of stores with electronic theft-detection devices or in airport security areas. Instead, show your ICD identification card and ask to be hand searched at airports or other places with electronic security areas (sports venues, etc.). Also, cellular telephones shouldn’t be held on the side where your ICD has been implanted. Instead, use your opposite ear when talking. X-rays, including mammograms, are permitted. Continue reading