Heart doctor runs his daily commute

Dr. Steven Bolling sets an example for patients by running to work everyday


Steven Bolling, M.D., a heart surgeon at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center, who like the rest of us tries to fit in some daily exercise — has been running to work every day for the past 30 years. It’s physical activity and it’s stress relief for the 60-year-old who fixes faulty heart valves.

He’s one of the busiest mitral valve surgeons in the country, helping patients whose hearts are forced to work harder when their mitral valve isn’t working properly. The operations take three to four hours and he usually does two cases a day.

Before hitting the road for his 6-mile run, he shared a few thoughts about his routine:

Athletic as a kid

As a kid I was a swimmer. When I pulled myself out of the pool I figured I’d better do something to stay active so I started running. I’ve basically run every day since then: college, medical school, residency and now that I’m on the faculty (as a professor of cardiac surgery).

My Zen moment

My motivation to go to work running is basically that it’s my Zen moment. I really take that time out and that’s when I think about stuff.

Practice what I preach

Some of my patients know that I run to work every day and they think it’s fascinating. They think it’s great that I’m getting in cardio every day. To practice what you preach is a good philosophy. I don’t know that running to work every day is practical for everyone, but doctors really should be examples for our patients.

bolling on road blog

Steven_Fredric_Bolling_headshotSteven Bolling, M.D., is the medical director of the U-M Mitral Valve Clinic. After earning a medical degree at the University of Michigan Medical School, he completed his surgical residency and cardiothoracic surgery training at Johns Hopkins. At the U-M, he leads cardio-protective lab research and tests minimally invasive strategies for treating mitral valve disease and tricuspid valve replacement.

It’s time for mitral valve surgery, but which hospital will you choose?

When weighing options, close to home isn't always best choice

women and doc blogOnce a decision is made to have heart surgery, patients tend to favor staying close to home.

But researchers at the University of Michigan analyzed mitral valve surgery to see if patients benefit from going to a center of excellence hospital—one that specializes in the procedure and sees a high volume of patients —as opposed to a nearby community hospital.

They found that going to a center of excellence is the better option for both patients and insurers, even if it’s farther away from the patient and costs more upfront.

Frank Fazzalari, M.D., professor of cardiac surgery, working with experts at the U-M Ross School of Business and cardiac surgeon Steve Bolling, M.D., inspired the look at how decisions are made about heart surgery.

Continue reading

Mitral valve repair: making the choice

One man’s journey to a healthier lifestyle

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Jim Moore, with his wife, holds his U-M hat signed by Dr. Bolling, which he wears with pride.

Jim Moore’s health story began with a sore foot and a trip to his doctor on the west side of Michigan. During the exam, Jim was diagnosed with a heart murmur, which then led to the discovery of mitral valve disease. His doctor recommended Dr. Steven Bolling as a foremost expert in mitral valve repair. Jim immediately made an appointment and was soon on his way to the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center.

Here is Jim’s story:

“My experience at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a good example of how a bad situation ended up being a very positive thing in my life.

I was diagnosed with mitral valve disease in May 2013, but didn’t realize anything was wrong with my health until that diagnosis. I noticed some shortness of breath while hiking, but attributed it to ‘getting older.’  I never knew it was a symptom of mitral valve disease.

My doctor told me that Dr. Steven Bolling was the guy to see for mitral valve repair, so I immediately made an appointment.

From the very beginning, I was impressed with my experience at U-M, including the efficiency and professionalism of everyone I met. Dr. Bolling was very reassuring when he said: ‘Here’s what we need to do to fix your valve.’ He was very confident in his ability to fix my valve and help me get my health back.

I checked into the hospital on a Thursday morning and was released three days later. They had me up and walking right away. I admit, I was scared to death before the operation, but it all went better than I ever expected. Within a week and a half, I was getting my breath back. During a hiking trip in Colorado prior to surgery, I had to stop to catch my breath. I don’t have to do that anymore. My wife and I hiked Oregon’s Silver Falls State Park recently and I wasn’t winded at all. I’m back and I feel great!

I even wore my U-M hat during the trip, which was signed by Dr. Bolling. It was quite a conversation starter! I’m very fortunate that things worked out for me. Mitral valve repair has given me a new outlook on life.”

Take the next step:

  • To make an appointment to discuss your need for treatment for mitral valve disease, call toll-free at 888-287-1082 or email at CVCCallCtr@med.umich.edu.

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.

Back on top after mitral valve repair

Former U-M resident shares his story

Dr. Mel Twiest is back on top of the world, hiking 54 miles of England's Southwest Coast Path following surgery for mitral valve repair.

Dr. Mel Twiest hiked 54 miles of England’s Southwest Coast Path following surgery for mitral valve repair.

Dr. Mel Twiest, a general surgeon who attended the University of Michigan medical school and completed his residency at U-M in the early 1970s, found himself back in familiar surroundings recently, but this time in the role of patient. After experiencing shortness of breath while hiking in the mountains of Santa Fe a few years ago, the 70-year-old doctor realized something was wrong. He was diagnosed with severe mitral valve disease. After several procedures, including mitral valve repair, Dr. Twiest credits the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center team for getting him close to his goal of climbing a mountain again.

Dr. Twiest shares his experience …

I had my first encounter as a patient at U-M in February 2013 for an ablation procedure performed by Dr. Hakan Oral. He and the entire CVC team came highly recommended, so I didn’t hesitate to travel from Tennessee to Michigan for the procedure, which was successful. But Dr. Oral warned me at the time that I was going to get into further trouble with my mitral heart valve. Unfortunately, he was right. Continue reading

Mitral valve repair vs replacement

“Repair is always better”

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U-M patient Perry Katsiskas believes she made the right decision in choosing to have her mitral valve repaired versus a future replacement.

Panorea (Perry) Katsiskas’ mitral valve disease didn’t slow her down. A daily exerciser, she lived an active life, relatively free of symptoms. But Perry, like many of the millions of Americans diagnosed with a degenerative version of the disease, was faced with a decision: mitral valve repair vs replacement. In other words, should she have her mitral valve repaired now or wait until her condition required complete valve replacement?

Under the care and counsel of Dr. Francis D. Pagani, surgical director of the U-M Adult Heart Transplant Program and director of the Center for Circulatory Support, Perry chose to have her valve repaired. “Dr. Pagani explained that if and when I experienced symptoms, it would likely be too late,” she says.

“I came in feeling healthy, had surgery and went home feeling healthier,” says Perry. “I felt Dr. Pagani cared about me and my outcome. And the outcome speaks for itself. Early intervention saved the quality of my life.” Continue reading