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

A remarkable woman shares her inspiring journey to good health

TAVR-EdwardsValve-blog

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

You’ve been diagnosed with an enlarged aorta: Now what?

enlarged aorta blog

If you’ve been diagnosed with an enlarged aorta, you likely have many questions about your condition: How big is too big? When should I be worried? What does “watchful waiting” mean? Are there any early warning signs before it bursts?

Most of the answers to these questions depend on a variety of factors, including your age and body size, medical history and the position and size of your aorta, among others.

University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center patient Bob Stephens found he had all of these questions and more when diagnosed with a total of five aortic enlargements.

“It’s awfully scary, but you don’t have a choice,” Bob says. “When I was first told about my condition, it worried me, but I knew the U-M team of doctors was watching me closely, especially my abdominal aortic aneurysm, which was large.” Bob admits that “watchful waiting” can be stressful, but “I knew I had the right people taking care of me.” Continue reading

Is drinking alcohol good for your heart?

Moderation is key - but what is one drink?

wine blogDrinking alcohol in moderation, along with an overall healthy lifestyle, is acceptable for most individuals. However, non-drinkers should not start drinking based on this information. Too much alcohol can cause direct damage to heart cells as well as nutritional and vitamin deficiencies. In addition, drinking alcohol can lead to alcoholism, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, breast cancer, suicide and accidents, so moderation is critical.

Is drinking alcohol good for your heart? Although drinking one glass of red wine a day is marketed as beneficial to the heart, there is no conclusive research or studies that support this claim. Some people believe that red wine is better than other types of alcohol, but the evidence is lacking.

Ongoing studies are examining the potential benefits of components in red wine such as flavonoids and other antioxidants (the same antioxidants found in many fruits and vegetables) in reducing heart disease risk, but no direct comparison trials have been done to determine the specific effect of wine or other alcohol on the risk of developing heart disease or stroke. Continue reading

Can alcohol cause heart damage?

Drinking in moderation OK for most people

cocktailDrinking alcohol in moderation, along with an overall healthy lifestyle, is acceptable for most individuals, says Dr. Michael Shea, who specializes in internal medicine and cardiovascular disease at the University of Michigan. “Moderation” is defined by the American Heart Association as an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.

According to the AHA, a drink is:

  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 4 ounces of wine
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits
  • 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits

What are the dangers of too much alcohol?

However, Dr. Shea warns, non-drinkers should not start drinking based on this information. “Too much alcohol can cause direct damage to heart cells as well as nutritional and vitamin deficiencies.” So the answer to the question “Can alcohol cause heart damage?” is yes, if you drink too much of it. In addition, drinking alcohol can lead to alcoholism, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, breast cancer, suicide and accidents, so moderation is critical.

Continue reading