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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8 ways to control high blood pressure

Watching fish swim has proved to reduce stress and lower blood pressure

lower BP Blog

A new study has shown that watching fish swim in an aquarium can help lower your blood pressure and reduce your heart rate.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a worldwide problem and the leading risk factor for death. With an estimated one billion people diagnosed with high blood pressure throughout the world, it is truly a global problem, on par with tobacco use as a risk for dying. But, there are techniques to help control high blood pressure.

In fact, the blood pressure control rate has improved over the last decade in the United States. Approximately 50 percent of those diagnosed with hypertension are controlling it, and that number could go as high as 85 percent if people followed steps to control their blood pressure. Here are eight effective methods:

  1. Maintain an active lifestyle and healthy weight.
  2. Limit salt and sodium consumption.
  3. Eat a healthy diet.
  4. Restrict alcohol consumption.
  5. Avoid smoking.
  6. Reduce consumption of caffeine.
  7. Limit stress.
  8. Take medications as directed. Continue reading

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

Top 5 Takeaways on Stroke

Dr. Eric Adelman's Mini Med School presentation focuses on stroke prevention and treatment

mini_med_school_cardiovascular_graphic stroke 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. Eric Adelman’s Mini Med School presentation on Stroke Prevention and Treatment:

1. Know the signs of stroke

Brain damage can begin within minutes of experiencing a stroke, so it’s important to know the signs of stroke and to seek immediate treatment by calling 911. Rapid treatment can significantly improve your outcome.

Common stroke symptoms experienced by both men and women include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, particularly on one side of the body.
  • Sudden trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble walking or difficulty with balance or coordination or dizziness.
  • Sudden difficulty seeing or double vision.
  • Sudden severe headache without a clear cause.

FAST (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911) is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of a stroke. When you spot the signs, call 911 for help.

2. Maintain a healthy blood pressure

Half of all strokes are attributed to high blood pressure. If individuals with high blood pressure can drop the top number of their blood pressure reading by 10 points, they can reduce their risk of stroke by 25 to 30 percent. Most people need medication to lower their blood pressure, but lifestyle factors can also play a role. Don’t smoke, get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet (e.g., Mediterranean diet) and try to avoid added salt.

3. Afib is a risk factor

Individuals with atrial fibrillation (Afib) have an increased risk of stroke, so it’s important to take your medication (warfarin or other anti-coagulant) on a regular basis to help reduce your risk of stroke.

4. Prevention is key

It’s much easier to prevent a stroke than to treat one, so be proactive if you have certain risk factors. For example, if you have diabetes, take the necessary steps to control it. Make sure your cholesterol is well-managed. And keep your blood pressure under control.

5. New device to treat stroke

A new type of device known as a stent retriever has shown tremendous promise in treating stroke patients. Stents, similar to the ones used to open clogged heart arteries, are being used to clear a blood clot in the brain, reducing the amount of disability after a stroke. The stent is temporarily inserted via catheter through the groin to flatten the clot and trap it, and is then removed with the clot. The stent retriever procedure is used for patients with severe strokes.

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Adelman_eric150x150Dr. Eric Adelman is assistant professor of neurology at the University of Michigan and co-director of the U-M Comprehensive Stroke Center. He received his medical degree from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

 

 

 

Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe 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. The U-M Stroke Program is accredited as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Joint Commission and participates in the American Stroke Association “Get With The Guidelines®” Quality Initiative.

Like salty foods? Study shows salt may not be all bad

More research needed to know how much salt each person's heart can handle

chef using seasoning blogOnly 1 percent of adults meet the current guidelines for dietary salt intake, which has led to efforts to reduce sodium in common foods like bread and soup. However, a new research study in over 2,600 seniors suggests that salt intake doesn’t strongly affect heart health in older adults.

Authors of the JAMA Internal Medicine study brought to a simmer the debate over which is better – longstanding federal guidelines to consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, or a new low of 1,500 milligrams or less. Based on information from dietary questionnaires, neither sodium guideline showed remarkable results in protecting from heart attack, stroke, or heart failure.

At first, this looks like good news for those who’ve eaten the same way for a long time and can’t imagine changing what’s on their plate – but the findings don’t necessarily mean patients can leave their doctors’ offices ignoring good advice about salt restriction. Continue reading

Healthy seasonal foods

Many area farmers markets are in full swing, offering healthy seasonal foods that are locally and regionally grown. Right now is the best time to get these in-season selections:

  • Asparagus — at its peak from March through June — contains high levels of the amino acidAsparagus image for the blog 320x320 asparagine, a natural diuretic. Increased urination releases fluid and helps rid the body of excess salts, which benefits those who have high blood pressure or other heart-related diseases. It is also low in fat, high in fiber and a good source of iron, B vitamins and vitamin C. Roast them on the grill or sauté in olive oil for a delicious, healthy addition to your meal.
  • Strawberry season runs from April through June. One cup offers 3.5 grams of fiber and meets 100 percent of your daily vitamin C needs. Buy strawberries grown close to home for the best flavor, choosing the ones that are plump, firm and uniform in color.
  • Sweet cherries are in season from late spring through early summer. They’re high in fiber and potassium and low in calories: one cup of cherries is about 100 calories. Cherries are full of anthocyanins, a type of phytochemical believed to be high in antioxidant activity.

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