Blueberries and heart health

Michigan's blueberries are bursting with flavor

blueberries blogBlueberries are in season in Michigan, so now is a great time to indulge. Whether you take a trip to Southeast Michigan (where a majority of the state’s blueberries are grown), visit your local farmers market or pick up a basket at your neighborhood grocery store, you’ll be doing your tastebuds — and your heart — a favor.

Color me healthy

Blueberries contain high amounts of brightly colored pigments called anthocyanins, which deliver a number of benefits for heart health. While other berries such as strawberries and cranberries contain anthocyanins as well, blueberries contain an especially high amount. These powerhouse pigments may help to reduce blood pressure, lower “bad” cholesterol and keep arteries healthy. Eating berries has even been shown to decrease the risk of death from heart disease.

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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

The Mediterranean diet: the gold standard for heart-healthy eating

May is National Mediterranean Diet Month

mediterranean Blog

Extra virgin olive oil in the diet has been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease

Are you looking for the most “heart-healthy” meal plan?

For years, the recommended diet to prevent heart disease was a low-fat diet. Then, as research began to reveal the negative effects of sugar and refined carbohydrates — often included in low-fat meals — many people turned to a low-carb diet. But low-carb does not necessarily mean “healthy.”

Now, more and more evidence points to a traditional Mediterranean meal plan as one of the healthiest eating patterns. A study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2/25/2013), shows that a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease by 30 percent in people at high risk for heart disease.

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U-M Frankel CVC teams recruiting for Heart Walk 2015

Sign up for a good cause

This Saturday, May 9th, is the date for the American Heart Association’s 2015 Washtenaw County Heart Walk/5K Run, and two U-M Frankel CVC teams are working hard to recruit more participants. Their common goal for Heart Walk 2015 is to help fight heart disease by raising money for cardiovascular education and research.

Why they walk

Joe Bryant and his daughter

Joe Bryant with his daughter and dog in last year’s Heart Walk.

U-M Frankel CVC exercise physiologist Joe Bryant is walking this year as team captain of Cardiovascular Medicine at Domino’s Farms. This marks his third year leading the team.

“We’re walking to recognize our cardiac patients who have made lifestyle changes in an effort to reduce their risk of future cardiac events,” says Bryant. “We encourage patients to attend the Heart Walk so they can see that there are many heart patients who are not just surviving, but thriving following a heart event or procedure.”

The team’s goal, Bryant says, is to recruit 20 walkers and to raise $2,000.

Another dedicated team captain is Jim Bloom, technical supervisor in the Frankel CVC Cardiac Procedures Unit (CPU). Bloom has been participating in the Heart Walk for the past 18 years, and this year is no exception as he leads his team, the CVC CPU Cardiocrew. Continue reading

I need a cardiologist … now what?

U-M Call Center professionals make the process smooth

CVC_Call_Center_004 blog

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

Add fresh herbs for great flavor and heart-healthy benefits

Get onboard with basil

herbs blogFresh herbs add great flavor to a variety of dishes and are a wonderful complement to a Mediterranean-style eating plan. Adding herbs to recipes also eliminates the need for salt. A low-sodium diet may help improve blood pressure, thus reducing your risk of heart disease and stroke. Herbs also provide healthy antioxidants and, if you grow them yourself, will be at peak quality for your favorite recipes.

We’ll take a look at several different herbs in the coming months, starting today with basil. Be sure to check back often to learn more about herbs and how they can be used in specific recipes.

The benefits of basil

If you’re excited to get your herb garden started, begin by planting basil seeds indoors in early to mid-April. The plants can be transplanted outdoors when the temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, even at night. Because it is sensitive to cooler temperatures, basil is an annual herb in Michigan. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, frequent care through pruning will result in greater production of leaves. Continue reading