Top stories from 2015

Making discovering, helping our neighbors and people across the globe battle heart disease

This year the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center continued to lead a treatment transformation in heart valve replacement, made new discoveries, and gave hope to our neighbors and people across the globe who are battling cardiovascular disease. These stories reflect a fundamental truth: Every step forward is a step we take together. Best wishes for a happy, healthy 2016!

UMHS10545YearInReview_blueTAVR ticker hits 600

It’s been a treatment transformation: fixing heart valves without surgery for patients with stiffened and narrowed aortic valves. The cardiac teams at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center have performed more transcatheter aortic valve replacements than most hospitals in the country. That’s 600 lives changed and counting.

From Egypt to Ann Arbor

Nassef Matoshaleh, and his wife, Wafaa, explored a handful of hospitals in the world – including the U.K., Germany, France and Canada and the U.S. — for aortic surgery. Their small family prayed the trip to the U-M to treat Nassef’s ascending aortic aneurysm would bring him back home. And it did. “The U-M team worked like an orchestra… to get out the most beautiful symphony you could ever hear. It’s like the symphony of life,” says Wafaa.

Back in the game

Without a human heart, Stanley Larkin visited a water park this summer and plays basketball with family and friends. Born with a heart defect, he’s spent a year with a Syncardia total artificial heart, the first person to leave a Michigan hospital without a heart and putting him in a rare group of patients worldwide using the device. A backpack-sized power supply keeps the technology — and Stanley — going until he gets a heart transplant.

Seeing double at the CVC

Twins enjoyed comic confusion at the CVC which was home to three sets of identical twins. Fourth year medical students – Corey Foster and Ben Foster – completed their rotations at the CVC. Courtney Clark and Rachel Scheich are both nurse practitioners in the CVC ICU. We miss seeing Mike Ranella every day, but we can see a familiar face in the device clinic where his twin brother Paul works.

Lacrosse star plays on with pulmonary hypertension.

Since her diagnosis with pulmonary hypertension, a rare heart condition that interferes with blood flow to the lungs, U-M graduate Katie Mezwa says she’s focusing on living a normal 22-year-old life. Her post diagnosis life included playing for the University of Michigan Womens Club Lacrosse team as the team earned its first national title this spring. Katie earned the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association Division 1 Player of the Year Award.

“To me, that award is a testament to my hard work and dedication and a great reminder that even a heart condition can’t hold me back,” says the 2015 U-M graduate whose future goals involve improving global health.


UMHEALTHThe 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.

Pulmonary hypertension treatment options make the difference

Sharon Stewart's doctor gave her 2 years to live … 11 years later she's planning a 2-month road trip to Alaska

PH Patient blog

Sharon Stewart is no stranger to many of southeast Michigan’s healthcare facilities. For years, the now 64-year-old went from doctor to doctor, trying to find someone who could diagnose her increasingly debilitating condition, which was causing severe symptoms, including high blood pressure, excruciating migraines, bleeding in her eyes and fainting spells. She was finally diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension (PH) — high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries of the lungs. PH can have no known cause, can be genetic or can be caused by drugs or toxins. It can also occur because of an underlying disease or health issue.
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Lacrosse star plays on with pulmonary hypertension

Heart threat to young women often misdiagnosed

Blurry vision and chest pain during lacrosse training were the first signs of heart trouble for Katie Mezwa.

Blurry vision and chest pain during lacrosse training were the first signs of heart trouble for Katie Mezwa.

Katie Mezwa lives with a kind of high blood pressure that’s known to impact women who may otherwise appear healthy.

Rather than high blood pressure throughout her body, Katie has pulmonary hypertension which is high blood pressure in the loop of vessels connecting the heart and lungs. The heart ends up working harder to pump blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen.

With shortness of breath as the main symptom the condition is easy to be misdiagnosed. Katie’s first sign of heart trouble:  blurry vision, fatigue and chest pain during a routine run with her lacrosse team.

A long path to answers included months of tests and appointments to find out why the active young woman had trouble performing. Continue reading

U-M doctors lead research studies on rare heart diseases

February 28 is Rare Disease Day

researcher blog

Researchers at University of Michigan are leading the way in identifying and developing treatment for rare cardiac diseases.

Rare diseases affect almost 25 million Americans. Worldwide, there are more than 6,000 rare diseases. The University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a leader in treating many rare heart diseases. As an academic hospital, U-M researchers are at the forefront of studies aimed at identifying and treating unique cardiac diseases.

According to Dr. Santhi Ganesh, a specialist in cardiology and genetics at the University of Michigan, “Our doctors take a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to research projects as we share knowledge.”

Dr. Ganesh believes that more rare diseases are being identified because of advancements in the study of genetics and new technologies. “It’s important that we continue to fund research into the study of rare diseases. We need to keep up in this important area.”

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Pulmonary hypertension treatment for mom of 3 leads back to active lifestyle

November 2013 is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month

Traci Patnoude blog

Traci Patnoude with her husband and 3 children. Diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension at age 35, Traci’s PH treatment has allowed her to participate in the activities she enjoys: “It might take me longer, but I can still do it.”

The last thing I could have ever expected after having my third child was heart disease. But there I was, at 35, hearing a diagnosis of pulmonary hypertension, which meant I had high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries in my lungs. Also known as PH, the condition can have no known cause, can be genetic or can be caused by drugs or toxins. It can also occur because of an underlying disease or health issue.

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