5 ways smoking hurts your heart


University of Michigan cardiologist Dr. G. Michael Deeb wants his patients to know something: Nicotine is toxic not only to the lungs but also to the heart. “When most patients think of the dangers of smoking, they think about the lungs,” says Dr. Deeb. “But cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in Michigan, and smoking is accelerating the problem.”

According to the American Heart Association, as many as 30 percent of all coronary heart disease deaths in the United States each year are attributable to cigarette smoking, and the more you smoke, the greater your risk. But even people who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day can have early signs of cardiovascular disease. Continue reading

Five key heart health screenings

Tests to help determine your risk for cardiovascular disease

heart blogAre you at risk for heart disease? The best way to find out is through cardiovascular screening tests. The American Heart Association recommends the following key cardiovascular health screenings:

1. Blood pressure 

Blood pressure is one of the most important screenings because high blood pressure usually has no symptoms so it can’t be detected without being measured. High blood pressure greatly increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. If your blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg, be sure to get it checked at least once every two years, starting at age 20. If your blood pressure is higher, your doctor may want to check it more often. High blood pressure can be controlled through lifestyle changes or medication. After age 65, women have a higher risk of high blood pressure than men, and African-American adults of all ages have a higher-than-average risk. Continue reading

U-M Mott Heart Walk team walks in memory of baby Callen

Callen's Crusaders walking in honor of baby who lost his life to hypoplastic left heart syndrome

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Members of the Mott team, who walked together in the 2014 Heart Walk, will join forces again this year, walking in memory of baby Callen.

On May 9, hundreds of U-M employees will lace up their walking shoes at the Eastern Michigan University campus as they join the effort to fight heart disease. They’ll be walking in the American Heart Association’s 2015 Washtenaw County Heart Walk/5K Run to raise money for cardiovascular education and research.

Among these dedicated walkers will be Dianne Sadler, a referral coordinator at Mott Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Medical Specialty Clinics, and her team, “Callen’s Crusaders.” Together, they’ll be walking in memory of Callen, the son of U-M co-worker Tammara Francis. Born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), sadly, Callen died on the day he was born.

Making strides in the fight against heart disease

HLHS is a birth defect that affects normal blood flow through the heart. As the baby develops during pregnancy, the left side of the heart does not form correctly. Hypoplastic left heart syndrome is one type of congenital heart defect.

Heart defects, the most common type of defect babies are born with, affect approximately 1 out of every 110 babies. According to the American Heart Association, heart defects continue to be the greatest source of infant deaths related to birth defects.

HW_LIW_CMYK_red+k_HThe University of Michigan Health System is making great strides in the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease through top-notch clinical and research capabilities. The American Heart Association supports these efforts and funds many cardiovascular research studies within U-M. In return, U-M is a major supporter of the AHA’s 2015 Washtenaw County Heart Walk/5K Run, which raises money for cardiovascular education and research.

Why they walk

The decision to walk in memory of Callen was a natural one for Dianne, who has participated in several Heart Walks in the past, including last year when she and her team, Ethan’s Emissaries, walked in support of another co-worker whose unborn child was also diagnosed with HLHS. Ethan, born just 12 days after last year’s walk, is healthy as he nears his first birthday.

Dianne says the Heart Walk is a good way for her and her team to show support for Tammara, to honor the memory of Callen and to raise funds for heart disease research. The team’s fundraising goal this year is $2,000.

This show of support is a blessing to Tammara, who is pregnant and unable to walk with Callen’s Crusaders. But her thoughts will be with the team as they walk in memory of her firstborn child.

Take the next step:

  • To join the U-M Team, visit washtenawheartwalk.org.
  • For questions or help registering, contact Tara Tomcsik (tara.tomcsik@heart.org, 734-945-5895) or Traci Fischer (fischert@med.umich.edu, 734-232-1866).

new_logos_180x1806For more than 160 years, the University of Michigan Health System has been a national leader in advanced patient care, innovative research to improve human health and comprehensive education of physicians and medical scientists. The three U-M hospitals have been recognized numerous times for excellence in patient care, including a #1 ranking in Michigan and national rankings in many specialty areas by U.S. News & World Report.  

I need a cardiologist … now what?

U-M Call Center professionals make the process smooth

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The U-M Call Center team (from left): Cheryl Palmer, Sandy Coffey, Andrea Navarre and Ashley Chang.

Your primary physician just recommended you see a cardiologist for a suspected heart condition. So where do you go from here?

If you decide you’d like to see a University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center cardiologist, the process is straightforward, beginning with a call to one of our Call Center professionals.

Call Center professionals are here to help guide you through the process of identifying the right cardiologist.

Getting started

“We start by gathering as much information from the caller as possible,” says Andrea Navarre. This includes a diagnosis (if one was given by the primary doctor) and a description of any symptoms the person is experiencing. “We realize that finding the right doctor can be overwhelming. That’s why we’re here to provide guidance and to point each caller to a cardiologist who aligns with his or her specific diagnosis or needs.” Continue reading

U-M Nurse Inspires 2015 Heart Walk Team

Hearts on the Run team leader walks in honor of her dad


Michele Derheim, RN, hopes to inspire others to participate in the 2015 Heart Walk

Michele Derheim, RN, will be among the hundreds of U-M employees who gather on the campus of Eastern Michigan University on May 9. They’ll be participating in the American Heart Association’s 2015 Washtenaw County Heart Walk/5K Run to help raise funds for the fight against heart disease and stroke.

Inspired by her 78-year-old father who suffers with peripheral arterial disease, Michele is currently recruiting runners for her team, “Hearts on the Run.” A born motivator, she hopes to inspire others to participate in the Heart Walk and to embrace a healthy lifestyle, something she did eight years ago in anticipation of her 40th birthday.

“I realized that I needed to take better care of myself,” Michele says. Even though she was a frequent walker and aerobic exerciser, she found it wasn’t enough. She began a walking/running routine that soon had her running three miles, then 5K races and, finally, a full marathon in 2013. Her father’s condition has made her commitment to fighting heart disease and embracing a healthy lifestyle even stronger. Continue reading

Low-carb v low-fat diet

Does ditching the carbs lead to a healthier heart?

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A new study discusses the advantages of a low-carb v low-fat diet and its impact on heart health.

Low-carb diets of one form or another have been on our radar for quite some time as a way to quickly shed pounds, but we haven’t known much about how these types of diets affect our heart health. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine last week says that compared to a low-fat diet, a low-carbohydrate diet is better not only for weight loss, but may also be better for your heart. Before we jump on the low-carb bandwagon, let’s take a closer look at this low-carb v low-fat study.

The study

This study included 148 obese men and women with healthy lipids and no history of heart disease or type 2 diabetes. They were assigned randomly to either a low-fat or low-carbohydrate diet, and they followed these diets for 12 months. All participants met with registered dietitians and received nutrition education, with emphasis on the benefits of monounsaturated fats and recommendations to limit trans fats. Those assigned to the low-fat diet were instructed to have less than 30 percent of their total calories from fat (less than 7 percent from saturated fat), while those assigned to the low-carb diet were instructed to limit their carbohydrate intake to less than 40 grams per day. Neither group was given a specific calorie goal. On average across the 12 months, participants in the low-carb group consumed about 130 fewer calories per day than those in the low-fat group. Continue reading