American Heart Health Month

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(L-R) Dr. Winakur, Ms. Robinson-Dawkins, Dr. Wen, Fellow Joyce Roller, Go Red for Women spokeperson, Ali Blais, Mayor Rawlings-Blake, Dr. Baker-Smith and Dr. Fisher.

By: Allie Ondrejcak, Communications Intern

Last week, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake held a Press Conference recognizing American Heart Month. The event featured: Dr. Leana Wen, Health Commissioner at the Baltimore City Health Department; Dr. Shannon Winakur, Medical Director at the Women’s Heart Center at Saint Agnes Hospital; Ali Blais, Director of Development for Go Red for Women; Alfreda Robinson-Dawkins, a heart disease survivor; and University of Maryland Medical Center’s Dr. Stacy Fisher. UMMC Cardiologist Dr. Carissa Baker-Smith was in attendance as well.

Dr. Fisher specializes in complex heart disease with special interests in adult congenital heart disease, heart disease during pregnancy and pulmonary hypertension. She spoke about several important issues at the conference:

  • The differences in heart disease between men and women
    • Heart risks and heart disease during pregnancy—because women are having children at older ages, and with complex heath conditions like diabetes and obesity, they are at a higher risk of developing heart disease
    • If you have a known condition, talk to your health provider before planning a pregnancy and to continue to discuss any symptoms you experience throughout
  • The importance of knowing your family history and heart-related sudden death.
    • it is important to be screened, and to have your children screened, for heart conditions
    • Being screened and knowing your history can help to prevent heart-related sudden death

In the United States, 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and it is the leading cause of death for both men and women. But the good news is 80% of heart disease and strokes can be prevented! The American Heart Association gives us 7 easy ways to lower your risk and improve your heath:

  1. Get Active
  2. Control Your Cholesterol
  3. Eat Better
  4. Manage Your Blood Pressure
  5. Lose Weight
  6. Reduce Your Blood Sugar
  7. Quit Smoking

Visit the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Heart and Vascular Center
for more information about our services and resources.

Also, check out UMMC’s “Never Skip a Beat” Heart Health Awareness Campaign for health tips, insights and information.

(L-R) Dr. Baker-Smith, Fellow Joyce Roller, Dr. Fisher and Dr. Winakur

 

Making Heart Health a Year-Round Priority

By: Hope Gamper, Editorial Intern

Heart Cardiogram 150858290

February and American Heart Month are ending, but just because March is around the corner doesn’t mean you should stop thinking about keeping your heart in tip-top shape.

The American Heart Association (AHA), whose mission is to fight cardiovascular diseases and stroke, and the UM Heart Center offer a series of lifestyle recommendations for optimizing your heart health all year round.

Move More

Working out regularly is one of the best things you can do for your heart. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 5 times a week (if you can’t do 30 minutes at a time, you can add up 10-minute sessions throughout the day).

Also try working in exercise to your normal routine:

  • Instead of driving to the store, walk or bike.
  • Park in a spot farther from your destination.
  • Keep dumbbells near the remote so you can stay active while watching TV.

Skip the Snacks

What you eat is just as important as what you do. Swapping out foods heavy with added sodium and fat for nutrient-rich foods can help you manage your weight, cholesterol and blood pressure. Here is a list of foods to fix and foods to nix.

Fix more foods high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, including:

  • Fruits and veggies
  • Whole grains – brown rice, quinoa, barley and buckwheat
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Protein sources – poultry, fish and nuts

Nix processed foods and those that tend to be high in sodium and fat, including:

  • Sugary foods and beverages
  • Red meat
  • Deep fried foods or foods cooked in butter

Avoid Tobacco

Tobacco and other ingredients common in cigarettes frequently contribute to heart disease. Even secondhand smoke kills nearly 70,000 people each year.

The good news is that when you quit smoking you see short term benefits right away, and it only takes about 5 to 15 years to reduce stroke risk to that similar of a nonsmoker. There is still time to reverse the damage caused by tobacco and ensure that your heart keeps pumping for many years to come.

Click here for a list of Smoking Cessation Classes in your area.

 

Doctor Holding Heart 166695035

Heart disease accounts for 1 in 4 deaths each year, making these types of incremental changes vital to reducing your risk of heart related illness and keeping your heart well for all of life’s challenges, in February or any other month.

Recovering Cancer Patient Takes Control of Health and Weight

Verna Prehn, before and after

My Story of Getting Healthy

By Verna Prehn

Three years ago I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. At the time of my diagnosis, I was a very large woman (weighing more than 300 lbs) with a very high “at-rest” heart rate and (we would find out later) severely malnourished.

I went through tough but successful treatment, including two surgeries, chemotherapy, artificial feedings with a nasogastric tube, and blood transfusions, under the care of Dr. Sarah Temkin at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Cancer Center.

Chemo had many side effects, including bone pain, hair loss and weight loss (97 pounds), but it has successfully freed me from cancer for now, and Dr. Temkin keeps a close watch on my health, vigilant for a recurrence that would require additional treatment. Dr. Temkin told me that keeping the weight off that I had lost with chemotherapy treatments would be healthy for me and increase my survivorship.

After treatment was complete, I began to put on weight, but Dr. Temkin said not to worry too much because everyone puts on a bit of weight after they have completed treatment. But my little bit of weight became a lot more weight until I had put on all 97 pounds I had lost.

I went to Dr. Tais Baig in UM Family Medicine as my primary care physician to have her regulate medication for my high blood pressure and rapid heart rate. She ran tests and found that my blood glucose was high enough to suspect diabetes. Dr. Baig talked with me for a while, getting to know me and asked how she could best help me with my health.

I told her that I wanted to get the weight off because I wanted to increase my survivorship and I knew that being so heavy is a threat to my health. I told her that I didn’t know how to do it. I don’t know what good nutrition is, what’s good or bad to eat, and how to come up with a plan to lose weight. She told me about the University of Maryland Medical Weight Management Program through the Department of Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Baig helped me through getting an appointment to begin.

I met Dr. Verlyn Warrington at my first appointment. She explained the program, gave me lots of information and set me up for the group meetings with a licensed clinical social worker and behavior therapist. I was taking medication for high blood pressure and rapid heart rate, thyroid medication for an under active thyroid, an inhaler for asthma, and Dr. Warrington wanted to put me on medication for diabetes.

My first meeting with the support and accountability group was overwhelming. We talked about protein, protein, protein. We talked about portion size. We talked about eating several times a day and not skipping meals. Harriet told us that if we followed the plan we would lose 10 percent of our body weight in three months. It took me about a week-and-a-half before I gave the plan a try because I was afraid and overwhelmed. In three months, I did indeed lose 10 percent of my body weight. In fact, I lost 35 pounds that first three months.

Additionally, Dr. Warrington explained that I needed to increase my activity level. I had some restrictions on what I could do because of my knees and asthma. I began walking. I started walking around the perimeter of my neighborhood, which measures out to just over a mile. At first, I couldn’t walk and talk at the same time and I had to stop frequently to rest and catch my breath. As I have lost more weight and have increased my cardiovascular endurance, I have started exercising to on-line walking videos

I have learned so much from Harriet, Dr. Warrington, Dr. Vivienne Rose and the people in our support and accountability group. I know how to think and make good choices about eating. HALT is a good motto to follow because my emotions drive my eating habits. So I think: HALT – am I HUNGRY? Or am I ANGRY? or am I LONELY? or am I TIRED? Actually, I add an “S” to it (HALTS) – am I STRESSED?

I read the labels on food and check them for calories, fat and sugar content. I measure my food so that I keep healthy portion sizes. (Portion size was a huge surprise to me. I had an unrealistic concept of what an individual serving was and what was actually food for two or three people.)

I keep track of my food in a food journal through MyFitnessPal.com. It also keeps track of my exercise and activity level. Dr. Warrington told me about this tool to use because I had gone about two months and had only lost one pound. Dr. Warrington and the food journal help me to realize that I was eating too few calories – I wasn’t eating enough food.

Dr. Vivienne Rose and Harriet Mandel present Mrs. Verna Prehn with a congratulatory plaque marking her 100 pound weight loss

Dr. Vivienne Rose and Harriet Mandel present Mrs. Verna Prehn with a congratulatory plaque marking her 100 pound weight loss

 

It has been 14 months since Dr. Warrington, Dr. Rose and Harriet helped me make a lifestyle change that is healthier for me and increases my rate of survivorship. At my last appointment and weigh-in, I had lost 100 pounds. It took 13 months. I am no longer on medication for my heart or blood pressure or thyroid. My blood glucose is no longer in the diabetic or pre-diabetic range. I have walked two 8k walks. I walk to videos or outdoors five times a week. I do strength training exercises with weights and bands. I am starting a faith and fitness class with a trainer and will begin a gym membership soon. I can walk my entire neighborhood in 20 minutes without stopping and while carrying on a conversation at the same time.

I still have a considerable amount of weight to lose to get to a healthy weight that I am comfortable with. I feel so much better already. I take the steps instead of the elevator and it doesn’t hurt my knees! I know so much more about what is a healthy food choice and portion size. The University of Maryland Medical Weight Management program, Dr. Warrington, Dr. Rose and Harriet have helped me claim a new healthier way of living.

Verna Prehn

Elkridge, Md.

Keep the Beat: UMMC Hosts Dance Party for Baltimore City Senior Citizens

By Sharon Boston

Media Relations Manager for University of Maryland Medical System

More than 300 Baltimore seniors got their feet moving and their heart rates up at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s third annual “Dance for the Heart” event at the Virginia S. Baker Recreation Center in PattersonPark.

The participants came from senior centers throughout the city to take part in dance demonstrations, line-dancing and blood pressure screenings. It was a fun way to get their heart rates up, keep their feet moving and dance their way to better health. Many of them arrived already enjoying dance. Some dancers really had some signature moves, and others just enjoyed swaying. At least one dancer used his cane to safely join the fun.

Dance for the Heart video

The Medical Center, which provided “Dance for Your Heart” shirts for everyone, partnered with the Baltimore City Health Department and the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks for the event.

University of Maryland family medicine specialist Georgia Bromfield, MD, also talked to the folks about the “ABCs” of heart disease, and they had lots of questions for her.

“Dance for Your Heart” is part of the Medical Center’s community outreach efforts. The annual dance is one of a series of heart-health events the Medical Center is hosting during February, which is American Heart Month.  Be sure to visit the Medical Center at the B-More Healthy Expo, February 23-24 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

To learn more about other upcoming activities, visit our community outreach page: www.umm.edu/events

 

 

 

Mandatory Pulse Oximetry Screening for Newborns Takes Effect in Maryland

By Carissa M. Baker-Smith, MD, MPH

Assistant Professor, University of Maryland School of Medicine

Pediatric Cardiologist, University of Maryland Children’s Heart Program

A quick, painless and non-invasive test to determine the amount of oxygen in a newborn baby’s blood is a first step in screening infants for congenital heart defects. Beginning September 1, 2012, hospitals in Maryland must administer the test to all newborns.

Congenital heart disease (CHD) occurs in approximately 8 of every 1,000 children.  Infants born with congenital heart disease have structural defects of the heart. Approximately 25% of all CHD cases are critical and require intervention during the infant’s first month of life. Interventions can include the administration of special medications or even surgery. Pulse oximetry may be helpful in improving the detection of critical CHD (CCHD).

On September 1, 2012, hospitals across Maryland begin mandatory pulse oximetry screening for all newborns. The screening must be done by a health professional before the infant is discharged and within 24 to 48 hours after birth. All hospitals in Maryland will be responsible for creating and implementing pulse oximetry screening protocols.

Children who “fail” pulse oximetry screening will undergo further evaluation, and their primary care providers will work closely with pediatric cardiologists to make the correct diagnosis. Failing the pulse oximetry test means oxygen saturation is lower than normal without another explanation, such as infection or lung disease.

What is pulse oximetry?

Pulse oximetry relies on the use of a non-invasive, painless method for detecting the amount of oxygen in the blood.  Probes are applied to the palm of the hand and the sole of the foot. The protocol selected by the State of Maryland for screening  is published in the Journal of Pediatrics (Pediatrics 2011; 128; e1259). Children with oxygen saturation less than 90% automatically test positive and fail screening.  Children with oxygen saturation greater than 95% test negative and pass screening. Children with oxygen saturation between 90% and 95% will undergo repeat testing and evaluation.

What is the potential impact of pulse oximetry screening?

We anticipate that pulse oximetry screening will enhance detection of CCHD. Data indicate that for every 1,000 children born in Maryland, 2.3 have CCHD.  Currently, between 60% and 70% of these infants are diagnosed through prenatal screening, leaving approximately 30% who are not yet diagnosed by the time they are born. Combined with physical examination, pulse oximetry is reported to improve sensitivity for detecting CHD by 20%.

What is the role of the Children’s Heart Program?

The University of Maryland Children’s Heart Program offers a comprehensive panel of services designed to accurately diagnose and effectively manage and treat children with CHD and CCHD.  Pediatric cardiologists are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to assist with the diagnosis of CHD.  Through consultation and telemedicine services, the Children’s Heart Program is ready to assist surrounding providers and families with the evaluation of infants with suspected CCHD.

For more information on pulse oximetry, please contact the Children’s Heart Program at 410-328-4FIT (4348).

Dr. Baker-Smith is a member of the Maryland State Advisory Council’s Committee for CCHD and the Newborn Screening for Critical Congenital Heart Disease multi-institutional group.

A Mission to Ecuador for Pediatric Heart Surgeon

By Meghan Scalea

UMMC Communications Account Leader

Sunjay Kaushal, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor at UM School of Medicine and director of pediatric cardiac surgery at UMMC, recently returned from a medical mission to Ecuador, where he performed life-saving heart surgeries on nearly 20 children who would have died without surgery.

 

Dr. Kaushal, a father of two, is a huge advocate for kids. This medical mission to Guayaquil, Ecuador, was his fifth trip with the International Children’s Heart Foundation (ICHF), a group dedicated to providing supplies, training and surgical resources to care for underprivileged children with heart disease in dozens of countries around the world.

According to the ICHF, 1% of the world’s population is born with heart disease, only about one-third is diagnosed, and even fewer receive life-saving heart surgery. Congenital heart disease is the most common birth defect in the world.

“There is a huge surplus of kids with congenital heart disease,” says Kaushal. “Traveling with this group allows me to provide free health care for children who wouldn’t otherwise be treated.”

Joining him in Ecuadorwas UMMC certified surgical technologist, Nicolette Dupuis, who supports Dr. Kaushal in his pediatric heart surgeries in the OR in Baltimore. This marked Dr. Kaushal and Ms. Dupuis’s third medical mission trip together. During their week inEcuador, they worked with cardiologists and intensivists from hospitals around theU.S. in the sparse operating rooms.

 “Part of our job while we were inEcuadorwas to teach the local medical professionals to do congenital heart surgeries like we do, but on a smaller level,” says Dr. Kaushal. “Our day began at 7:30 am, and we’d operate until 9:00 pm. We staffed the ICU 24/7 during the time we were there to make sure those children had the post-operative care they needed.”

Dr. Kaushal is the only board-certified congenital heart surgeon inMaryland, giving him a unique expertise in performing surgical procedures on babies just a few days old who were born with heart disease, children with congenital and acquired heart disease, and adults living with heart conditions they developed as babies, known as adult congenital heart disease.

Dr. Kaushal performs the most complex pediatric heart surgeries available today, including surgeries for babies with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, Tetralogy of Fallot and ventricular septal defect, and those in need of pulmonary valve replacement. He is also preparing to open a clinical trial that will use a baby’s own stem cells to regenerate the underdeveloped portion of their heart caused by hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

We invite you to learn more about what Dr. Kaushal and the Children’s Heart Program at UMMC are doing for children within the Mid-Atlantic region.

UMMS “Spring Into Good Health” Event Gets Shoppers Dancing in the Center Court at Mondawmin Mall

By Sharon Boston

UMMC Media Relations Manager

Each spring, the University of Medical System (UMMS) hosts “Spring Into Good Health,” a free event attended by hundreds of people who receive medical screenings (such as blood pressure and cholesterol), talk one-on-one with University of Maryland Medical System health professionals and pick up information on men’s and women’s health, child safety, nutrition and more.

This year, the UMMS Community Outreach and Advocacy Committee wanted to put a focus on fitness and hosted a dance party right in the middle of Mondawmin Mall!

Several guests commented that they didn’t realize that fitness could be so fun, and that they plan to try to exercise more and eat better, thanks to the information that they picked up at the UMMS event.

Take a look at the some of the line dancing that got people of all ages up and moving.

 “The dancing was really upbeat and lively, it really got people moving,” said Donna Jacobs, UMMS senior vice president for government relations. “Several people told us that they’d like to see even more fun physical activities next year.”

Five of the 12 hospitals in the University of Maryland Medical System took part in the event — the University of Maryland Medical Center, Maryland General Hospital, Kernan Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Hospital, University Specialty Hospital and Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital. The event was also sponsored by Maryland Physicians Care, Total Health Care, Coppin State University School of Nursing and Radio One, Baltimore.

Dark Chocolate: It’s Sweet for Your Health

By Christine Dobmeier
UMMC Nutritionist

Editor’s Note: Christine Dobmeier wrote this post on February 9, 2011 for Exercists, the Baltimore Sun’s health and fitness blog. This post, which has been edited, is reprinted with the permission of the Baltimore Sun.

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, chocolate candy is everywhere we look, in many shapes and forms, including, of course, hearts! While many of us think of chocolate as an unhealthy indulgence, research is showing that dark chocolate actually has many benefits. Chocolate’s healthy kick stems from its rich flavonol content. The health bonuses associated with dark chocolate and cocoa include enhanced blood flow, healthy cholesterol levels and in some studies, reduced blood pressure.

What is a flavonol? Though it sounds like some kind of wacky flavor, it is actually a type of flavonoid. A flavonoid is something that helps protect plants by repairing damage from environmental toxins. Flavonoids occur naturally in plant-based foods and offer certain health benefits when people consume them. There are more than 4,000 various flavonoid compounds, and flavonol is the specific one found in chocolate and cocoa.

When we think of antioxidants and flavonoids, foods that often come to mind include green tea, red wine and berries. The good news on cocoa and chocolate? Just two tablespoons of natural cocoa has more antioxidant properties than four cups of green tea, one cup of blueberries or six ounces of red wine. One cup of cranberries has 419 milligrams of flavonols, and only 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate has 517 milligrams. There isn’t an official recommended daily allowance for flavonols, but research indicates there are health benefits with intakes from approximately 150-200 milligrams a day.

Why dark chocolate over milk or white chocolate? Typically dark chocolate is less refined, which allows its flavonol content to be higher. Most commercial chocolate is more processed, which decreases this healthy benefit. The good news is many chocolate manufacturers are looking for ways to keep the flavonol content higher to promote the healthy side of chocolate. When choosing chocolate for your sweetheart, look for a dark chocolate, and still remember that portion size is important. The serving recommendation to get the heart healthy benefit of dark chocolate isn’t yet established, but it’s thought that an ounce of dark chocolate 2-3 times a week is a good goal.

While dark chocolate is more heart-healthy, try to limit chocolate in forms such as cake, where it may have much additional saturated and trans fats, as well as items with a lot of extra caramel or marshmallow fillings. Instead, look for basic, rich dark chocolate or ways to mix dark chocolate with a variety of other anti-oxidant rich foods. Consider dipping cranberries or blueberries in dark chocolate for a healthy but delicious treat. Cocoa dusted almonds also make an excellent snack.

Enjoy a healthy dose of dark chocolate for Valentine’s Day, as well as to celebrate American Heart Month in February.

Other Posts By Christine Dobmeier:

Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day

By Sharon Boston
Media Relations Manager

Sparkles the Clown will be back for face-painting and balloon animals
Sparkles the Clown will be back for face-painting and balloon animals.

“Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day” is taking over the park in front of the Medical Center on Wednesday, September 29, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day is a national campaign encouraging people to take charge of their own health and then to encourage their loved ones to do the same. The message is all about prevention and letting people know that going to the doctor, working out and eating right are necessary tools for a longer, happier, healthier life.

The University of Maryland Medical System takes Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day to another level by bringing the doctors, nurses and other health experts to the community. This is the third year UMMS has held this event in front of the Medical Center.

There will be more than 60 different groups and agencies, including many UMMC departments, offering free screenings and information on a variety of health topics, including:

  • Prostate cancer
  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol
  • Vascular (Veins)
  • Flu shots
  • Ask-a-doctor booth
  • Stroke
  • Blood sugar
  • Fitness activities
  • Nutrition
  • Diabetes
  • Childhood obesity
Many UMMC departments are part of Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day.
Many UMMC departments are part of Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day.

If you would like more information about this event, please visit: http://www.umm.edu/events/#talo

Magic 95.9 FM will be broadcasting live from “Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day,” so if you can’t make it to the park you can still be part of the event. You can even listen from your computer: www.magicbaltimore.com.

Throughout the day, host Tim Watts will be interviewing several of our UMMS experts. Here’s the schedule, but keep in mind that the times may vary a bit because it’s a live event.

10:45 a.m. Childhood Obesity
Dr. Steven Czinn, Pediatrician and Director
University of Maryland Hospital for Children

11:45 a.m. Prostate Cancer
Dr. James Borin, Urologist
University of Maryland Medical Center

12:45 p.m. Diabetes
Angela Ginn-Meadows, Diabetes Educator
Maryland General Hospital

1:45 p.m. Heart Disease
Dr. Randolph Whipss, Head of Cardiology
Maryland General Hospital

2:45 p.m. Trauma
Paul Thurman, RN
R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center

The crew from the Healthy Groove van gets people moving.
The crew from the Healthy Groove van gets people moving.

Five of the 11 hospitals in the University of Maryland Medical System are taking part in the event — the University of Maryland Medical Center, Maryland General Hospital, Kernan Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation Hospital, University Specialty Hospital and Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital. Other sponsors include Maryland Physicians Care, the Baltimore City Health Department, Coppin State University Helene Fuld School of Nursing and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African History and Culture.

We hope to see you in the park for Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day!

Other Posts by Sharon Boston:

Exercise Tips for Heart Health

By Michael Miller, M.D.
Director, UM Center for Preventive Cardiology

Most of us can improve our heart health simply with moderate exercise. For example, 30 minutes of brisk walking (3-4 miles per hour) 6 days a week has been shown to reduce the risk of a heart attack by about 30%.  A great and inexpensive gizmo to help stay motivated is a pedometer (cost is about $20; www.pedometer.com).   Simply adding 2,000 steps a day, which is equal to walking 1 mile, can result in a 10-pound weight loss over a year.

Do activities that you enjoy!  For example, one of the most overlooked yet beneficial activities for your heart is dancing.  Listening to music that makes you feel good causes the additional release of heart protective endorphins.  You don’t need to worry about weather conditions or even having a partner. Just turn on the radio or your iPod and dance the night away.  Actually …  just dance part of the night away, because a good night’s sleep is also good for your heart!