LVAD patient gives extra thanks this year

Cara Reischel feels blessed to be able to watch her daughter grow up

Cara Family Photo blog

Cara Reischel is giving extra thanks this holiday season … for her husband, Joel, daughter, Cora, and her improved health due to a left ventricular assist device (LVAD) that was implanted in February at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center.

Although she admits that being an LVAD patient and getting accustomed to her new device hasn’t always been easy, Cara is a firm believer in taking one day at a time and being thankful for all that life has to offer, especially time with Joel and 11-year-old Cora.

As a baby, Cara was diagnosed with a hole in her heart, which doctors monitored closely. It wasn’t until Cara suffered sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) at age 15 that doctors changed her diagnosis to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). HCM is a congenital heart muscle disease that can affect people of any age and is a common cause of SCA in young people. Approximately one in 500 to 1,000 young people are diagnosed with the condition. Continue reading

U-M Frankel CVC teams recruiting for Heart Walk 2015

Sign up for a good cause

This Saturday, May 9th, is the date for the American Heart Association’s 2015 Washtenaw County Heart Walk/5K Run, and two U-M Frankel CVC teams are working hard to recruit more participants. Their common goal for Heart Walk 2015 is to help fight heart disease by raising money for cardiovascular education and research.

Why they walk

Joe Bryant and his daughter

Joe Bryant with his daughter and dog in last year’s Heart Walk.

U-M Frankel CVC exercise physiologist Joe Bryant is walking this year as team captain of Cardiovascular Medicine at Domino’s Farms. This marks his third year leading the team.

“We’re walking to recognize our cardiac patients who have made lifestyle changes in an effort to reduce their risk of future cardiac events,” says Bryant. “We encourage patients to attend the Heart Walk so they can see that there are many heart patients who are not just surviving, but thriving following a heart event or procedure.”

The team’s goal, Bryant says, is to recruit 20 walkers and to raise $2,000.

Another dedicated team captain is Jim Bloom, technical supervisor in the Frankel CVC Cardiac Procedures Unit (CPU). Bloom has been participating in the Heart Walk for the past 18 years, and this year is no exception as he leads his team, the CVC CPU Cardiocrew. 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

New procedure offers hope for aortic aneurysm patients

Frank Korany is back to enjoying life’s adventures after minimally invasive fenestrated endograft procedure

Frank at oxford tap blog

Frank is back to playing his saxophone.

Frank Korany knew something was very wrong when he was transferred from one hospital near his home to the University of Michigan emergency room in 2013. As it turned out, the aortic aneurysm he had been diagnosed with in 2007 (and which his doctors were monitoring) had grown so large that only a team of specialists like those at the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center had the necessary expertise to treat him.

Frank was no stranger to heart issues. He had experienced congestive heart failure, which led to a pacemaker in 2008, followed by surgery to insert two stents and then a serious infection that required removal of the pacemaker and impacted his joints and teeth. “I had to learn to walk again,” Frank says, due to the severity of the joint infection.

When he was admitted to U-M for treatment of the seven-centimeter aneurysm growing in his aorta, Frank jokingly posted this message on his Facebook page: “Vacationing in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan.” Continue reading

Imagining a better pacemaker

Multiple surgeries to replace batteries and leads could become a thing of the past for children with pacemakers

leadless pacemakerPacemakers have made a huge difference for children with congenital heart defects.  Here at the Congenital Heart Center we generally implant pacemaker devices in children each week, for conditions ranging from slow heart rates they were born with to abnormal rhythms arising after complicated heart operations.

Pacemakers are often needed for children with a type of arrhythmia in which heart rhythms are too slow. The device follows the child’s heart beat and keeps it from falling below a certain rate.

While these life saving devices have made a positive difference for countless children since initially developed in 1958, they are not without disadvantages.  One major weakness in our current pacemaker models is the need for battery replacement.  Although a pacemaker uses only microwatts of power, the batteries currently have a lifespan of 6-12 years.  This means that a person with a pacemaker implanted during childhood could require as many as 10 surgeries in their lifetime just because of depleted batteries.

Continue reading

Recycling pacemakers: Providing affordable health care abroad

Project My Heart Your Heart collects pacemakers for potential use in developing countries

It started with a simple patient question asked years ago: “Could someone use my pacemaker after I die?” The question was met with exploration and now a mission to provide recycled pacemakers to patients across the globe.

U-M team implants new pacemakers during medical mission to Ghana.

U-M team implants new pacemakers during medical mission to Ghana.

Small, reliable and easily held in the palm of a hand, the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center’s Project My Heart Your Heart hopes to bring recycled pacemakers within reach of those in developing countries as a novel way of treating heart disease.

“This type of activity already goes on on a small scale,” says Dr.Thomas Crawford, a cardiologist and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Michigan.

“Doctors will literally reprocess pacemakers themselves and then take them in a suitcase and go on medical missions for a week or two to re-implant devices. The difference in our program is that we want to develop a standardized protocol that can be followed by any other charity that wants to do this,” he explained.  Continue reading