Know Your Risk for Disease

Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide? Stroke follows second. Even these conditions do not result in death, they cause disability and diminish quality of life. Know the risks and reduce your chance of having a heart attack or stroke.

Risks factors include:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • physical inactivity
  • Obesity/being overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Stress (leads to poor lifestyle choices)
  • Alcohol (raises blood pressure and triglycerides)
  • Diet and nutrition (affects cholesterol, blood pressure and obesity)

What is PAD?

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is a serious condition that causes arteries in the legs to become narrowed by plaque. When arteries are clogged, blood flow to the legs and feet is reduced, causing pain and making it difficult to walk.

Symptoms of PAD include muscle pain or cramping in legs after activity, wounds on the legs or feet that are slow to heal, changes in your skin color or temperature of your feet and legs and odd growth changes in your toe nails.

Your risk for developing PAD is increased if you have history of smoking or other health issues such as diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or obesity. Your age or family history may also be a factor.

There are new, minimally invasive ways for trained cardiologists to help open arteries, reduce symptoms and ensure quality of life is improved. If you’re concerned you’re at risk, talk to your doctor to learn what you can do to lower your risk for disease.

Understanding Your Heart’s Function

Understanding how the heart functions may help you feel more in control of managing your behaviors. The information offered is from the American Heart Association:

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Tricuspid Valve

  • Closes off the upper right chamber (or atrium) that holds blood coming in from the body.
  • Opens to allow blood to flow from the top right chamber to the lower right chamber (or from right atrium to right ventricle).
  • Prevents the back flow of blood from the ventricle to the atrium when blood is pumped out of the ventricle.

Pulmonary Valve (or Pulmonic Valve)

  • Closes off the lower right chamber (or right ventricle).
  • Opens to allow blood to be pumped from the heart to the lungs (through the pulmonary artery) where it will receive oxygen.

Mitral Valve

  • Closes off the upper left chamber (or left atrium) collecting the oxygen-rich blood coming in from the lungs.
  • Opens to allow blood to pass from the upper left side to the lower left side (or from the left atrium to the left ventricle).

Aortic Valve

  • Closes off the lower left chamber that holds the oxygen-rich blood before it is pumped out to the body.
  • Opens to allow blood to leave the heart (from the left ventricle to the aorta and on to the body).

What is Atrial Fibrillation?

Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heart rate that can increase your risk of stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.  During atrial fibrillation, the heart’s two upper chambers (the atria) beat chaotically and irregularly — out of coordination with the two lower chambers (the ventricles) of the heart.

Atrial fibrillation symptoms often include heart palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness. Episodes of atrial fibrillation can come and go, or you may develop atrial fibrillation that doesn’t go away and may require treatment. Although atrial fibrillation isn’t usually life-threatening, it is a serious medical condition that sometimes requires emergency treatment.

CardiAMP® Clinical Trial Could Restore Hope for Heart Failure Patients

Ypsilanti resident is first to be admitted to innovative stem cell trial at St. Joe’s

Retired pharmacist Sam Othman knew he was only stalling the inevitable with the multiple medications he was taking for his heart failure. Diagnosed with heart failure six years ago, the 65-year-old Ypsilanti resident knew there must be something else out there to help restore his health.

“Things had been going slowly, slowly for the worst,” Sam said.

Always inquisitive about new and alternative therapies, Sam began to investigate stem cell treatment as a possible option. He felt the theory – relying on stem cells to generate healthy heart tissue – made sense.

Out of curiosity, Sam searched the web and made a serendipitous discovery that St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor was accepting patients in the Phase III CardiAMP® clinical trial.

The investigational study takes a personalized and minimally invasive approach using a patient’s own bone marrow cells in the treatment of ischemic heart failure that develops after a heart attack, and is designed to stimulate the body’s natural healing response.

“On a whim, I thought somewhere close, someone is doing clinical trials with stem cells,” Sam said.

Sam reached out to St. Joe’s, and after a series of screenings, he became the first patient in the CardiAMP® trial at this site and in the state of Michigan. Continue reading “CardiAMP® Clinical Trial Could Restore Hope for Heart Failure Patients”

St. Joe’s Livingston ICR Open House – Nov. 15

SJML_ICR_OpenHouse_Postcard_FRONTLIVINGSTON – Join us in celebrating the opening of our Intensive Cardiac Rehab (ICR) space at St. Joseph Mercy Livingston:

Thursday, November 15, 2018
5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
St. Joseph Mercy Livingston
620 Byron Rd • Howell, MI 48843

Enjoy tours, refreshments, cooking demos and giveaways. The event is free but registration is requested: stjoeshealth.org/icropenhouse

Heart Palpitations or Something More?

iha_dsc_7523_radmira_greenstein_for_print_useIn the past, women were told that a racing heart was nothing more than a panic attack, when often it was a symptom of an arrhythmia or a heart rhythm disorder.  Radmira Greenstein, MD, a cardiovascular disease and electrophysiology specialist at Michigan Heart, says a thorough health history is the first step to diagnosing the problem.

“If you are having racing heartbeats before you go on stage to give a talk, it’s probably anxiety. When your heart starts racing out of nowhere, it’s less likely to be related to a panic attack,” Dr. Greenstein explains. “In general, women tend to have more palpitations than men as a result of hormonal changes.”

An examination may lead to additional testing, including an ultrasound of the heart and heart monitoring, Dr. Greenstein points out.

“If you are having palpitations every day, we will recommend a 24-hour monitor that you wear at home. We ask you to keep a diary and note when you are having episodes so that we can correlate the heart rhythm at the time that you were feeling symptoms.”

If you are not having symptoms every day, Greenstein recommends a monitor that can be used for up to 30 days or even implanting one that can last more than two years.

If you are experiencing intermittent palpitations, Dr. Greenstein recommends a visit to your primary care physician. When symptoms continue and include lightheadedness, dizziness or chest pain, you should go to the hospital.

“I provide individualized care guided by the patient and inclusive of the patient’s family,” she says.

About Dr. Greenstein

Radmira S. Greenstein, MD has been practicing in the Ypsilanti and Jackson, Mich. area for more than a decade. She is a member of the American College of Cardiology as well as a member of the admissions committee at the University of Michigan Medical School. In addition to her cardiology practice, Dr. Greenstein volunteers as a Russian language translator.

The Science of Stress on the Heart

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Stress in all of its many forms can be harmful to your heart. Whether its relationship problems or the pressures at work, the body tends to shift into a primitive protective gear called “fight or flight.”

Mark Bernstein, MD, a cardiovascular disease specialist at Michigan Heart, offers tips for identifying stress and how to find healthy avenues to avoid its negative physical effects.

In scientific terms, stressful events or feelings trigger a part of the brain called the locus coeruleus, which processes sensory input and can increase or decrease awareness of surroundings through its autonomic nervous system.

The hypothalamic/pituitary/adrenal axis will cause hormones to be excreted that will aid in the “fight or flight” response.  CRF is secreted by the hypothalamus, which in turn secrets ACTH, which will in turn secrete cortisol, which increases the availability of sugar to the body.

The adrenal gland will also secrete epinephrine, which will increase heart rate and increase blood supply to the muscles and shuts down digestion and sexual system until stress is relieved.

For a short time these responses are appropriate and beneficial, however, if present for a prolonged time the can lead to increased blood sugar, elevated blood pressure, fluid retention, activated platelets (which can lead to heart attacks) and decreased immune response, which can lead chronically stressed people to be more prone to illness.

Why is stress bad for the body?
When dealing with relationship issues and the pressures of work, the body shifts into a primitive protective gear called “fight or flight.” The brain stimulates sugar production in the body, increases the heart rate and shuts down the digestive system and sexual system until stress is relieved. These defensive measures offer short-term relief but prolonged stress drives up the risk of heart attack and lead to chronic illnesses.

How do people react to stress?
People react to stress in different ways. Some people experience physical reactions such as heart palpitations, headaches, ulcers, lack of appetite, overeating, anxiety and depression. These conditions are exacerbated by the use of alcohol, tobacco, drugs and lack of sleep.

What are some ways to reduce the physical effects of stress?
For starters, reducing or eliminating bad behaviors can lower risk of developing heart disease. Anxiety medications are an option but they are not a good long-term solution. There are a variety of ways to help people reach a sense of relaxation and well-being. These techniques include meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, music, reading, religion, exercise, healthy eating, and social interaction.

For more information, visit www.michiganheart.com.