Snoring and its link to heart disease

Annoying habit raises risk for hypertension, stroke, heart attacks


Men more than women are at risk for sleep problems that raise the risk for hypertension, stroke, heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues.

Men more than women are at risk for sleep problems that raise the risk for hypertension, stroke, heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues.

Heavy snoring can sound funny to your sleep partner and annoy them terribly, but it is no joke. It is often the sign of a condition called obstructive sleep apnea, which we now know raises the risk for diabetes, obesity, hypertension, strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.

People with obstructive sleep apnea stop breathing for 10-20 seconds while they sleep, and this can occur from a few to hundreds of time a night. Snoring doesn’t occur in every case of sleep apnea, and all people who snore don’t have sleep apnea, but anyone who is told they snore should consider obstructive sleep apnea as a possible cause. Continue reading

Heart of a Hunter: Meet hunter Cleo Seay, heart attack survivor

Enjoying the great outdoors, seven years after a heart attack

Hunting small game like rabbit and quail and bringing in larger hauls of turkey and deer are important memories and adventures for contractor Cleo Seay, 62, of Flint, Mich. Cleo Seay

The desire to be in nature and enjoy the primal rush of the hunt didn’t change after a heart attack in 2006.

“Hunting season is the one time of year I get to see some of my friends,” says Seay. “We’ll eat, lie, hunt, fish. To be honest if we really wanted to kill a deer, we wouldn’t go in such a big group. Hunting deer is a quiet thing.”

Rather than a tent, he spends nights under the stars in his cork-floored Airstream, but it feels just as good to get away from it all with a dozen close friends on private land in Benton Harbor, Mich. Before loading up his gear we asked Cleo to talk about his journey with heart disease. Continue reading

Treating breast cancer, saving the heart

Cardio-oncologists help keep hearts healthy during and after cancer treatment

My work at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center focuses on preventing and minimizing heart damage that can be caused by cancer treatment. It’s a risk faced by more than 2 million breast cancer survivors who have had either chemotherapy or radiation.

Dr. Elina Yamada is a member of the cardio-oncology team at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Elina Yamada is a member of the cardio-oncology team at the University of Michigan.

I recently had the chance to talk to a group at Gilda’s Club of Metro Detroit, a community that provides emotional and social support for adults, teens and children living with any kind of cancer, and in October they turned their attention to breast cancer.

Here are some of the common questions I hear from breast cancer survivors:

What’s my risk?   – Various cancer treatments can interact with the heart. Chemotherapy drugs, such as anthracyclines, designed to kill cancer cells can also harm heart muscle cells, causing a condition called cardiotoxicity. The risk can be low or high depending on the drug. Radiation therapy to the chest can lead to thickening or scarring of heart structures, such as the valves or pericardium (membrane surrounding the heart), and also affect the heart vessels, causing heart attacks. This could impact left-side breast cancer patients.

What kind of heart problems I can develop? Heart problems may develop during, or even years after cancer treatment. Cardiotoxicity can cause heart failure, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, heart attacks, irregular heartbeat, slow heart rate, or fluid around the heart. Radiation can cause heart valve disease, heart attacks, and thickening of the lining around the heart.

Is there anything I can do to prevent them? If you have cancer and want to avoid heart problems in the future, I recommend:

  • low-cholesterol diet to avoid developing blockages in the heart vessels
  • low-salt diet to avoid developing high blood pressure
  • Get daily exercises, such as walking at least 15 to 30 minutes, as tolerated
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages
  • Maintain healthy weight to avoid obesity and diabetes which increase your cardiac risks

What symptoms should I worry about?  Symptoms caused by cardiotoxity can be common to the ones caused by cancer itself or treatment, such as fatigue, shortness of breath and leg swelling. In general, patients should tell their doctor if they have shortness of breath, chest pain, heart palpitations, fluid retention in the legs, distension of the stomach, dizziness or fainting. The Cardiologist should be able to examine you and run tests to determine if they are caused by heart problems or not.

Can I wait to treat my heart problems? Beating cancer is the first priority for women with breast cancer. Preventing and treating heart problems from cancer treatment can be coordinated with your Oncologist, so that you can conclude your cancer treatment. The goal of our Program is to ensure that breast cancer survivors have a healthy heart to enjoy the rest of their lives.


Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe Cardio-Oncology Program at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center treats patients with cardiac tumors and collaborates with cancer specialists to prevent and minimize heart damage caused by chemotherapy and radiation.

Notre Dame fan’s 2011 game-day heart attack leads to healthier lifestyle

Quick action by fans helped Leo Staudacher survive to watch final touchdowns from his hospital bed

Leo-NotreDameIt was called the biggest comeback in Big House history when Leo Staudacher, 71, suffered cardiac arrest at the 2011 University of Michigan–Notre Dame game, and by the fourth quarter was watching the final minutes of the game from his hospital bed.

Leo Staudacher, right, was rescued by rivals in 2011 when Marvin Sonne, U-M School of Dentistry ’73, performed CPR.

As a sports writer said back then, luckily for Staudacher, a Notre Dame fan, when someone asks “Is there a doctor in the Big House?,” folks spring into action like a two-minute offense.

Two years later, Staudacher is 25 pounds lighter, more devoted to healthy habits and no longer considers U-M a rival—not even Saturday when the Wolverines take on the Irish at 8 p.m.

“I’ve kept my promise too and I’ve never pulled against University of Michigan,” says Staudacher. “I owe so much to the U of M. Notre Dame is in my DNA, but Michigan is in my heart.”

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Signs of a heart attack

Should you call 911?

aspirin-waterIf you’re experiencing chest pain, or pressure in the chest (common signs of a heart attack), but don’t know whether you should call 911, University of Michigan Nurse Practitioner Cheryl Bord advises you ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the pain related to a physical activity or emotional/mental stress?
  • Does the pain/pressure radiate to the left side, upper back, neck, jaw or left shoulder?
  • Are you also experiencing sweating, nausea and/or lightheadedness?
  • Are you having difficulty breathing?

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Lifestyle changes for heart attack survivor lead to better health

Matt Barribeau talks about his cardiac rehabilitation

Matt-Barribeau-golfingHeart attack survivor Matt Barribeau believed he was in fairly good physical condition when he received a health club membership from his wife, Sherry, for his 48th birthday. Little did he know the first day of his new workout routine would result in a life-altering experience: He suffered a serious heart attack on the drive home with Sherry.

Today, two years later, Matt believes it’s a miracle he is alive considering the severity of his heart attack and his initial grim prognosis. He acknowledges the work of exceptional cardiologists at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, who he says were operating on him within 10 minutes of his arrival at the hospital. He was diagnosed with 100 percent blockage toward the top of his left anterior descending coronary artery, requiring the insertion of a stent, followed later by intra-aortic balloon pump and swan ganz catheter procedures.

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