Heart device gives patient freedom during wait for heart transplant

Michael Richards feels “lucky” to be alive after heart failure diagnosis

Michael Richards, 25, has a total artificial heart controlled by wearable technology, giving him the freedom to visit Ann Arbor's Hands On Museum with his 2-year-old daughter.

“I was a nervous wreck,” says Michael Richards, Jr., 25, about the first time he and his family changed the battery for the backpack-sized device that controls his heart.

When most people hear “wearable technology,” they think of fitness trackers and enhanced glasses. The total artificial heart works on a higher level — allowing heart patients independence as they wait for a heart transplant.

The 14-pound Freedom® Driver, which Richards carries in a backpack, powers the total artificial heart with precisely calibrated pulses of air. The University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center is the only Michigan heart program to send patients home with the wearable technology. Continue reading

Heart patients ask: Is it safe for me to exercise?

heart patients and exrcise blog

It’s that time of year when many of us consider a renewed commitment to exercise and getting in shape. But if you have a heart condition, the decision to exercise might not be a matter of resolution. Instead, like many of my patients, you might be asking yourself: Is it safe for me to exercise?

Your ability to exercise depends on your diagnosis and should always be discussed with your healthcare provider. A patient with cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle, for example, typically has some restrictions on competitive exercise, though most habitual exercise-type activities would still be encouraged. Continue reading

Top stories from 2015

Making discovering, helping our neighbors and people across the globe battle heart disease

This year the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center continued to lead a treatment transformation in heart valve replacement, made new discoveries, and gave hope to our neighbors and people across the globe who are battling cardiovascular disease. These stories reflect a fundamental truth: Every step forward is a step we take together. Best wishes for a happy, healthy 2016!

UMHS10545YearInReview_blueTAVR ticker hits 600

It’s been a treatment transformation: fixing heart valves without surgery for patients with stiffened and narrowed aortic valves. The cardiac teams at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center have performed more transcatheter aortic valve replacements than most hospitals in the country. That’s 600 lives changed and counting.

From Egypt to Ann Arbor

Nassef Matoshaleh, and his wife, Wafaa, explored a handful of hospitals in the world – including the U.K., Germany, France and Canada and the U.S. — for aortic surgery. Their small family prayed the trip to the U-M to treat Nassef’s ascending aortic aneurysm would bring him back home. And it did. “The U-M team worked like an orchestra… to get out the most beautiful symphony you could ever hear. It’s like the symphony of life,” says Wafaa.

Back in the game

Without a human heart, Stanley Larkin visited a water park this summer and plays basketball with family and friends. Born with a heart defect, he’s spent a year with a Syncardia total artificial heart, the first person to leave a Michigan hospital without a heart and putting him in a rare group of patients worldwide using the device. A backpack-sized power supply keeps the technology — and Stanley — going until he gets a heart transplant.

Seeing double at the CVC

Twins enjoyed comic confusion at the CVC which was home to three sets of identical twins. Fourth year medical students – Corey Foster and Ben Foster – completed their rotations at the CVC. Courtney Clark and Rachel Scheich are both nurse practitioners in the CVC ICU. We miss seeing Mike Ranella every day, but we can see a familiar face in the device clinic where his twin brother Paul works.

Lacrosse star plays on with pulmonary hypertension.

Since her diagnosis with pulmonary hypertension, a rare heart condition that interferes with blood flow to the lungs, U-M graduate Katie Mezwa says she’s focusing on living a normal 22-year-old life. Her post diagnosis life included playing for the University of Michigan Womens Club Lacrosse team as the team earned its first national title this spring. Katie earned the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association Division 1 Player of the Year Award.

“To me, that award is a testament to my hard work and dedication and a great reminder that even a heart condition can’t hold me back,” says the 2015 U-M graduate whose future goals involve improving global health.


UMHEALTHThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.

Breakthrough heart failure drug: Is it right for you?

Entresto shows benefits over traditional treatment for heart failure patients

game changer blogHeart failure is a debilitating and life-threatening condition affecting nearly six million people in the United States. In patients with heart failure, the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s nutrition and oxygen needs. The blood begins to back up and, as a result, the veins, tissues and lungs become congested with fluid.

Heart failure patients face a high risk of repeated hospitalizations and symptoms such as fatigue, loss of breath and fluid retention, all significantly impacting their quality of life. These patients also face the risk of death.

But now there’s a new heart failure drug, known as Entresto, bringing hope to many of these patients. Approval of Entresto came six weeks ahead of the FDA’s priority review action date, allowing it to be available to patients in the United States sooner than anticipated. Continue reading

Playing a new tune after heart failure and heart transplant (VIDEO)

Scot Cannell shares his journey through heart failure at U-M

Band teacher Scot Cannell, 50, and his cardiologists at the University of Michigan would come up with a solution at each low point in treating his heart disease:  an implantable cardiac defibrillator to keep his heart rhythm in check, then a left ventricular assist device to support his weakened heart.

In life and in Cannell’s world of music, hitting the high notes often takes hard work. Three years after being diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, Cannell’s best option for living was a heart transplant.

“I had no family history of heart disease and I found myself in need of a new heart,” says Cannell, of Saline, Mich., a husband and father of three. “I dealt with it all with great support and humor whenever we could.

“The scariest part was hearing during the transplant evaluation that I had end stage heart failure. A nurse could see it upset me and she put a hand on my shoulder and told me, ‘End stage heart disease is just what it’s called. It doesn’t mean the end is here.’ ” Continue reading

Total artificial heart keeps advanced heart failure patient going and going

Design advances lead to smaller, more portable ventricular assist devices

Without a human heart, Stanley Larkin has visited a water park this summer and plays basketball with family and friends.

Stan Larkin is back in the game, using a backpack-sized power supply for his total artificial heart.

Stan Larkin is back in the game, using a backpack-sized power supply for his total artificial heart.

He has a total artificial heart which is used when end-stage heart failure affects both sides of the heart and other more common heart-supporting devices are inadequate to keep patients alive.

“The device Stan has is the SynCardia temporary Total Artificial Heart, a mechanical pump to bridge him to transplantation,” says University of Michigan cardiac surgeon Jonathan Haft, M.D.  “He’s still listed for a heart transplant and we hope to transplant him as soon as an organ is available. In the meantime he can be at home, he can be functional, and continue to rehabilitate himself so he’s in the best possible shape when his opportunity comes.”

Continue reading