The long road to heart transplant

U-M patient shares the pain and joy

Faces-of-Cardiovascular-Disease

Daniel Silverman has faced death more times that he’d like to think about. But through the years — 21 to be exact — and the many heart-related emergencies he’s experienced, he has never once asked: “Why me?”

This 59-year-old heart transplant patient is especially grateful to be alive today, and is thankful for his heart donor and for the cardiovascular team at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. But the road to his successful heart transplant has been a long and difficult one.

From the beginning

Daniel’s heart issues were first discovered during a routine physical in 1995. While living in Chicago, the then 39-year-old was diagnosed with premature ventricular contractions (PVCs) or irregular heartbeats. He had no symptoms at the time and was treated with ACE inhibitors to keep his heart beating at a steady rhythm. Continue reading

ICD patients: You’re not alone

ICDs

An implantable cardioverter defibrillator, or ICD, provides immediate therapy to life-threatening arrhythmias (heart beating too quickly or too slowly) through a painless pacing sequence or a jolt of electricity. Despite its lifesaving capabilities, an ICD may bring questions, fear and anxiety for many patients.

Here are three questions I’m often asked by ICD patients:

Q. What about airport security scanners and other magnetic devices? Will they interact with my ICD?

External electromagnetic or radiofrequency signals can impact an ICD, so patients should not stand in or near the doorway of stores with electronic theft-detection devices or in airport security areas. Instead, show your ICD identification card and ask to be hand searched at airports or other places with electronic security areas (sports venues, etc.). Also, cellular telephones shouldn’t be held on the side where your ICD has been implanted. Instead, use your opposite ear when talking. X-rays, including mammograms, are permitted. Continue reading

Heart health and depression

Some things that might surprise you

 

Depression and heart disease blogThe American Heart Association reports that while an estimated 10 percent of Americans ages 18 and older acknowledge depression, up to 33 percent of heart attack patients develop some degree of depression.

Dr. Michelle Riba, professor of psychiatry and associate chair for U-M’s Integrated Medical and Psychiatric Services in the Department of Psychiatry and associate director of the U-M Comprehensive Depression Center, takes it a step further: “It’s very complicated,” she says, noting that “almost every major cardiac condition has psychological issues that need to be addressed.” Monitoring a heart patient’s mental health is just as important as treating his or her physical condition, she says.

It gets even more complicated, says Dr. Riba, because not only can cardiovascular disease lead to depression, but also depression can lead to cardiovascular disease. “It’s bidirectional.”

According to research in the Journal of the American Heart Association, persistent depression may double the risk of stroke in adults over 50. What’s more, new research in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes (American Heart Association journal) reports that the combination of stress and depression can significantly increase a heart patient’s risk of death or heart attack. Continue reading

What women want to know about ICDs

Four frequently asked questions by women about implantable cardioverter defibrillators

women and ICD blogAn implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is an electronic device that provides immediate therapy to a life-threatening arrhythmia (heart beating too quickly) via a painless pacing sequence or a jolt of electricity. It can also act as a pacemaker if the heart is beating too slowly.

Men and women are equally at risk for arrhythmias and the need for an ICD. However, women have different issues regarding ICD. Here is what women want to know about ICDs.

  1. Can I have routine mammograms?

Depending on your ICD placement, the device may interfere with imaging of breast tissue and may require additional testing for optimal results (possible follow-up ultrasound). Further, the presence of an ICD (typically left or right upper chest area), may make the imaging of the breast more uncomfortable, but it will not cause damage to the device. Continue reading

Living with an ICD

University of Michigan Health System promotes ICD peer-mentoring program and a personal connection

Jeanette McDonald - solo blog

Jeanette McDonald’s trip to Yellowstone National Park last September marked the first time in nearly three years this ICD patient was far from medical resources. Today, she is ready to reach out to other patients.

What if you were told you had a condition that required you to have a device implanted in your body to save your life? It would be a hard reality to accept — one filled with uncertainty and fear. But if you met someone who was living with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) and had a full, happy life, that person might alleviate some of your fears by sharing their story and proving that life isn’t over — just changing to adapt to a new reality.

This is the concept for a unique peer-mentoring program at the University of Michigan Health System designed to help those facing life-changing procedures, such as an ICD.

The University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center has paired up with the Patient and Family Centered Care (PFCC) Program to pilot peer-mentoring initiatives aimed at helping patients with specific health challenges. The U-M outpatient implantable cardioverter defibrillator clinic has been selected as one of the first five sites to pilot such a program. Continue reading

One family, three implantable cardioverter defibrillators

Jeanette McDonald cares for herself and two sons with ICDs

caregiver heart blogJeanette McDonald has a lot on her plate, but you won’t hear her complain. Not only is she a U-M cardiomyopathy patient who has had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) for the last three years — she’s also the mother of two boys who have ICDs.

An ICD provides immediate therapy for a life-threatening arrhythmia where the heart is beating too quickly by providing a jolt of electricity — a treatment called defibrillation. An ICD continuously monitors heart rhythms and is programmed to deliver pacing impulses to restore the heart’s natural rhythm, which can, in some cases, help avoid the need for a shock.

After her own diagnosis, U-M cardiologists recommended Jeanette’s sons be tested for the heart condition. Both tested positive and received ICDs within months of each other: Ian at the age of 20 and Jacob at the age of 18. Today, three years later, neither son has symptoms of cardiomyopathy — something they are all grateful for. Continue reading