Warfarin or Pradaxa? Making the choice.

Dr. Geoffrey Barnes weighs the pros and cons of atrial fibrillation meds

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Atrial fibrillation (also know as Afib) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clotsstroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. According to the American Heart Association, approximately 2.7 million Americans are living with Afib.

Atrial fibrillation has long been treated with the blood thinner Coumadin, also known as warfarin, which was approved by the FDA in 1954. However, new blood thinners, or anticoagulants, to treat Afib have come on the market in the last six years, including one known as Pradaxa. Continue reading

Rethink that drink for better heart health

Eliminating sugary and diet beverages may reduce your chances of heart disease

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What’s your favorite beverage? Coffee with sugar? Tea with honey? Diet soda or low-calorie sports drink? Read on to learn how your go-to beverage could be affecting your heart.

According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, beverage consumption in the United States accounts for 47 percent of all added sugars. Those guidelines also report that higher intake of added sugars, especially sugar-sweetened beverages, is consistently associated with increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke in adults. Continue reading

Exercise to keep your heart ticking

Don't let excuses get in the way

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We all know that exercise is a good thing for our health. But getting into a regular routine is often the first stumbling block. Once you overcome that, you’ll begin to realize the benefits of establishing and keeping to a successful exercise program.

According to University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center Cardiologist Dr. Sara Saberi, “For the general population, great things result from habitual exercise. Studies show that people who exercise actually live longer.” Continue reading

Stroke and sleep apnea: Strange bed partners

Stroke and sleep apnea manStroke researchers now know that sleep apnea is very common after stroke. We have found that about 75% of stroke patients have sleep apnea. This is important because sleep apnea has wide-ranging consequences for stroke patients.

Why it’s important for sleep apnea to be diagnosed in stroke patients

Sleep apnea is a predictor of poor outcomes following stroke, such as greater disability and higher mortality. The exact reasons for this are unknown at this time and warrant further study.

In addition, it is possible that sleep apnea contributes to increased stroke risk by promoting atherosclerosis, hyper coagulability (an abnormally increased tendency for the blood to clot) and adverse effects on cerebral hemodynamics (the forces involved in the circulation of blood in the brain).  Continue reading

After stroke: A lot of life to live

Patient Jill Weatherly grateful for the gift of life

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Jill Weatherly and family

Jill Weatherly’s advice to anyone feeling the warning signs of stroke: “Get medical help when your symptoms start.” That’s what she did on July 25, 2015. Luckily, Weatherly’s husband drove her to the University of Michigan Health System Emergency Department, where the stroke team administered the clot-busting medication, tPA.

“They saved my life,” Weatherly says. “I got speech and motion back within 15 minutes. And every 15 minutes or so I could see improvement. I’m really grateful for the care.”

Weatherly and her husband were on their way to a leisurely late-morning breakfast. She was driving when she lost most of her speech and her right side went numb. With amazing presence of mind, she got out of the car, walked around to the passenger side and got in. Her husband drove the rest of the way—right to the doors of U-M Emergency.  Continue reading

What you should know about the SPRINT blood pressure trial

BPNew data, published Monday, from the Sprint blood pressure trial could inspire a second look at the blood pressure treatment guidelines that doctors follow today.

The large study showed lowering systolic blood pressure from the currently recommended 140 to less than 120 could prevent heart attacks and strokes and potentially save lives. While the study is compelling, there are important things to know about it. Continue reading