Top 5 Takeaways on Heart Failure

Dr. Todd Koelling's Mini Med School presentation focuses on heart failure

mini_med_school_cardiovascular_graphic heart blogLeading U-M Frankel CVC researchers and physicians are advancing knowledge, finding new treatments and applying new technologies. Each week one of them shared his or her expertise in a six-week Mini Med School community education program focused on cardiovascular topics.

Here are the Top 5 Takeaways from Dr. Todd Koelling’s Mini Med School presentation on Heart Failure:

1. A serious health concern

More than 5 million people in the United States suffer from heart failure. It is the most common cause of hospitalizations for those over the age of 65 in the U.S. and represents a huge cost burden for Americans. Heart failure is caused by the inability of the heart to pump blood efficiently to oxygenate various organs throughout the body.

The two major categories of heart failure are low ejection fraction and preserved ejection fraction. An ejection fraction is an important measurement of how well your heart is pumping and is used to help classify heart failure and guide treatment. Continue reading

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

Celebrate Go Red for Women: Learn your risk for heart disease

Meet three women advocating for women’s heart health

Be inspired by three amazing women Pam Mace, Diedre Todd and Aimee Bingham who are surviving heart disease.

Be inspired by three amazing women Pam Mace, Diedre Todd and Aimee Bingham who are surviving heart disease.

Women can do anything men can do. And when it comes to heart disease women are breaking barriers.

More women than men die every year from heart disease and stroke, making it the leading cause of death for women.

“The good news is that 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes,” says cardiologist Elizabeth Jackson, M.D., director of the Women’s Heart Program at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center and author of “An Ageless Woman’s Guide to Heart Disease.”

Campaigns like Go Red for Women, which celebrates National Wear Red Day on Feb. 6, inspires women to advocate for more research and swifter action for women’s heart health. Every minute a women dies from heart disease, and 1 in 3 women’s deaths are caused by heart disease. Continue reading

Is red meat unhealthy for your heart?

U-M healthcare providers weigh in on study showing connection between red meat and heart failure

meat blogA study out of Cleveland Clinic, recently reported in Journal of the American College of Cardiology, seems to answer the question “Is red meat unhealthy for your heart?”–until you look a little more closely. The study found a strong association between TMAO (trimethylamine oxidase) and severity of heart failure, including an increased risk of death in patients with high TMAO levels. TMAO is a digestion byproduct of bacteria that can live in peoples’ intestines, and has previously been linked to increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Foods such as red meat and eggs are the most common sources of TMAO in the diet.

A look at the study

Some who read this study might be quick to say that heart failure patients should eat less red meat and eggs. However, since the authors did not look at food intake, it is difficult say for sure how TMAO levels in this study related to the dietary patterns of the patients. Some researchers believe that the walls of the intestine become ‘leaky’ when severe heart failure causes fluid congestion there. These leaky walls could let bacteria or their byproducts, like TMAO, into the bloodstream to cause problems. While patients with high TMAO levels in this study were on average older and sicker, most did not appear to have truly severe heart failure. Continue reading

Effects of caffeine on heart health

How much is safe?

A cup of joe may be good for you, but don’t fall for the bull. The Red Bull, that is.

About half of U.S. adults age 20 or older are coffee drinkers. Coffee is the principal source of caffeine in this country, in addition to tea and soft drinks. Because it is a stimulant, the effects of caffeine on heart health are constantly being studied.

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Overall, the findings have shown that moderate coffee drinking of 1-2 cups per day is likely not harmful. Some studies have even shown beneficial effects of having up to 4 cups of coffee or tea, including reduced risk of heart failure, arrhythmias, stroke and type 2 diabetes; improvements in blood pressure; and reductions in all-cause mortality. However, the extent to which caffeine plays a role in these protective effects is still unclear. Coffee and tea are known to have high levels of antioxidants and phytonutrients, which protect the body’s cells and tissue like blood vessels and heart muscle. Therefore, more studies are needed to distinguish the benefits of the antioxidants from the effects of the caffeine. Continue reading

What causes metabolic syndrome?

Condition may be inherited but lifestyle choices still play major role

A new study about genetic mutations causing an inherited form of metabolic syndrome points to the potential of future drug development to treat diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

While the results of this study are promising — and the first to indicate that a genetic mutation can influence the development of metabolic syndrome and coronary heart disease — the study involved a very small group and was not representative of a larger population. However, it does indicate that, over time, we may be able to block the effects of the mutation that leads to metabolic syndrome with medicine.

Lifestyle influence

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The U-M Metabolic Fitness Program promotes behavioral change for a healthier lifestyle.

In the meantime, the answer to the question, “What causes metabolic syndrome?” is that lifestyle choices play a major role in controlling the five health conditions involved with the disease. Having three or more of these conditions may lead to a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, which can result in heart attack, stroke, heart failure and diabetes.

While over 80 percent of those with metabolic syndrome are likely to have a genetic link to the condition, lifestyle choices are believed to be a major contributor. Lifestyle changes can also help a patient achieve better health and reduce the risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Continue reading