Groundbreaking app for atrial fibrillation patients

miafib app

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

What women want to know about ICDs

Four frequently asked questions by women about implantable cardioverter defibrillators

women and ICD blogAn implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is an electronic device that provides immediate therapy to a life-threatening arrhythmia (heart beating too quickly) via a painless pacing sequence or a jolt of electricity. It can also act as a pacemaker if the heart is beating too slowly.

Men and women are equally at risk for arrhythmias and the need for an ICD. However, women have different issues regarding ICD. Here is what women want to know about ICDs.

  1. Can I have routine mammograms?

Depending on your ICD placement, the device may interfere with imaging of breast tissue and may require additional testing for optimal results (possible follow-up ultrasound). Further, the presence of an ICD (typically left or right upper chest area), may make the imaging of the breast more uncomfortable, but it will not cause damage to the device. Continue reading

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

One family, three implantable cardioverter defibrillators

Jeanette McDonald cares for herself and two sons with ICDs

caregiver heart blogJeanette McDonald has a lot on her plate, but you won’t hear her complain. Not only is she a U-M cardiomyopathy patient who has had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) for the last three years — she’s also the mother of two boys who have ICDs.

An ICD provides immediate therapy for a life-threatening arrhythmia where the heart is beating too quickly by providing a jolt of electricity — a treatment called defibrillation. An ICD continuously monitors heart rhythms and is programmed to deliver pacing impulses to restore the heart’s natural rhythm, which can, in some cases, help avoid the need for a shock.

After her own diagnosis, U-M cardiologists recommended Jeanette’s sons be tested for the heart condition. Both tested positive and received ICDs within months of each other: Ian at the age of 20 and Jacob at the age of 18. Today, three years later, neither son has symptoms of cardiomyopathy — something they are all grateful for. 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

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

Continue reading