What you need to know about IVC filters

Learn the risks and benefits of filters designed to catch dangerous blood clots

Doctor holding IVC filterMore adults than ever have inferior vena cava filters, cage-like devices implanted in their chest to protect them from stroke or deadly blood clots. News reports that questioned the safety of IVC filters made by CR Bard may have patients wondering: what kind of IVC filter they have, and if, and when, it should be removed.

Vein specialists at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center weigh in on the emerging concerns about IVC filters.

How IVC filters work

IVC filters are inserted into the inferior vena cava to capture large blood clots and prevent them from reaching the lungs. The inferior vena cava is the main vessel that returns blood from the lower body back to the heart and lungs. Doctors may recommend an IVC filter if they’re worried about the risk of dangerous blood clots among their patients with risk factors, such as: Continue reading

Blood-brain barriers greatly affect stroke


Blood-brain barriers protect the brain from trauma and illness and yet are a major problem in developing drugs to target neurological disorders

Most people aren’t aware that blood-brain barriers have an affect on how brains react to stroke and other assaults on the brain. We spoke with Dr. Richard Keep, Director, Crosby Neurosurgical Laboratories, to find out more.

What are blood-brain and blood-cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) barriers?

They are specialized interfaces between the bloodstream and the brain situated at the blood vessels of the brain (the blood-brain barrier or BBB) and at a specialized tissue called the choroid plexus that secretes the CSF that bathes the brain (the blood-CSF barrier).

What is the function of those barriers?

The brain needs a well-controlled environment to function properly and these barrier tissues help provide that by controlling the entry of molecules from blood to brain, by transporting important nutrients (such as glucose) into the brain, and by transporting waste products and potential neurotoxic agents from the brain. They also control the entry of white blood cells into the brain (regulate inflammation).  Continue reading

5 ways smoking hurts your heart


University of Michigan cardiologist Dr. G. Michael Deeb wants his patients to know something: Nicotine is toxic not only to the lungs but also to the heart. “When most patients think of the dangers of smoking, they think about the lungs,” says Dr. Deeb. “But cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in Michigan, and smoking is accelerating the problem.”

According to the American Heart Association, as many as 30 percent of all coronary heart disease deaths in the United States each year are attributable to cigarette smoking, and the more you smoke, the greater your risk. But even people who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day can have early signs of cardiovascular disease. Continue reading

Groundbreaking app for atrial fibrillation patients

miafib app

A new app designed to monitor symptoms associated with atrial fibrillation, or Afib, is being evaluated as part of a University of Michigan study. Developed by U-M cardiologist Dr. Hamid Ghanbari, “miAfib” allows patients to more accurately communicate their atrial fibrillation symptoms in real time.

Tracking Afib sypmtoms

Atrial fibrillation is the most prevalent major arrhythmia in the United States. It can lead to an increased risk of stroke, congestive heart failure and overall mortality. What is much less certain, says Dr. Ghanbari, is the association between Afib symptoms, affect and heart rhythm on a daily basis. Continue reading

Uric acid and stroke therapy

More research is needed


Portion of CT scan of a brain that has experienced acute ischemic stroke

Portion of CT scan of a brain that has experienced acute ischemic stroke

A Spanish research team has recently found that giving uric acid (UA) with intravenous thrombolytic therapy (tPA) to patients with acute ischemic stroke could help improve outcomes, particularly in women. Emergency Medicine Physician Dr. William J. Meurer talked with us about the study and its implications for stroke treatment and research.

Do the results of the Spanish study mean that hospitals will start supplementing clot-busting tPA with uric acid (UA) when they treat ischemic stroke patients?

No. The main trial didn’t find UA to work when given to everyone. The Spanish researchers have generated an interesting hypothesis by observing that it worked in women. There is not strong enough evidence yet to change practice, but it’s an interesting area for future research.

How did the team conduct the research?

The researchers reexamined the results of their Efficacy Study of Combined Treatment with Uric Acid and rtPA in Acute Ischemia Stroke (URICO-ICTUS) trialContinue reading

Goodbye to blood-thinners?

Breakthrough treatment for Afib might be right for you

Afib-Blog_resizedAtrial fibrillation, or Afib, is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, resulting in a fast or irregular heart rhythm among more than 5 million Americans. Afib is traditionally treated with blood-thinners or anticoagulants such as warfarin, but a new device, recently approved by the FDA, is changing the way Afib is treated.

The WATCHMAN™ Left Arial Appendage Closure Device offers patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment option that could free them from the challenges of long-term warfarin therapy.

The Frankel Cardiovascular Center is among the first heart centers in the nation to use the WATCHMAN Device. With stroke being one of the most feared consequences of Afib, the WATCHMAN Device has proved to be a viable alternative to blood-thinning medications, which are not well-tolerated by some patients and have a significant risk for bleeding complications. Continue reading