Category Archives: Heart & Vascular

The Beaumont Blog Has Moved!


beaumont blog has moved

The Beaumont Health System blog has moved to a new address: We’ll continue to publish the articles you’ve come to enjoy, along with new and improved features and content throughout the months.

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Beaumont, Troy Goes Red for Women’s Heart Month

For the third year,  Beaumont, Troy employees were asked to put their designer hats on and create a red gown and dress a mannequin in honor of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Campaign.

Seven wonderful designs were submitted for voting by employees and visitors at the hospital. The dresses will be on display at Beaumont, Troy for the rest of the month.

Take a look at this year’s crafty submissions and vote for your favorite below:

Great work, everybody!

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Beaumont Heart and Vascular Screening | American Heart Month

BEAUMONT _ American Heart MonthFebruary is American Heart Month where hospitals and health educators across the country promote prevention and awareness of heart disease. According to the CDC, about 715,000 Americans each year suffer a heart attack, and 600,000 people die from heart disease – making heart disease responsible for 25% of all deaths in America.

Beaumont’s Heart and Vascular Center of Excellence offers a heart and vascular screening program called 7 for $70, which includes seven different tests administered by board-certified Beaumont physicians to help screen patients for warning signs of heart or vascular disease.

Beaumont’s 7 for $70 screening includes:

  • blood pressure test
  • body mass index (BMI)
  • blood cholesterol and hemoglobin A1c measurements
  • 12-lead electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • stroke screening/carotid artery ultrasound
  • abdominal aortic aneurysm ultrasound
  • peripheral artery disease screening

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Is the Super Bowl harmful to your heart?

Studies suggest stress from big games may trigger heart attacks

big_game_heart_attackHot wings, nachos, sliders on one!

With Super Bowl XLVIII just days away, the hype is reaching fever pitch. This annual NFL championship football game will be seen my millions around the world.

Fatty, salty foods and beer on two!

Broncos, Seahawks, office pools. Omaha!

Studies suggest that big games, like the Super Bowl, may trigger heart attacks in fans due to stress.

Beaumont cardiologist, Steven Almany, M.D., weighs in, “There have been a number of studies linking big games in World Cup soccer and the Super Bowl with fan heart attacks and other cardiovascular episodes.”

Researchers also noted that along with stress, food and drink consumed on Super Bowl Sunday may also be responsible. Is the Super Bowl and the overconsumption of party foods the perfect health storm for some fans?

“There’s no doubt that stress, acts as an emotional trigger, setting off physical changes to the body. When heart rates rise, so too, does blood pressure, increasing the heart’s oxygen demand. While this is happening, the size of coronary arteries can decrease. The decrease in oxygen delivery is not good, especially for those men and women with known heart disease.”

“The overeating, combined with alcohol doesn’t bode well either.”

So, is there a connection to the Super Bowl and heart attacks?

Adds Dr. Almany, “Maybe, for some, but more research needs to be done. Above all, fans need to remember it’s just a game, and that includes Lions fans who’ve experienced long-term heartbreak. Take your medications as prescribed. Eat and drink in moderation. Enjoy.”

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Beaumont first in Michigan for new heart valve treatment

Beaumont is the first hospital in Michigan to implant the commercially approved MitraClip to help high-risk patients with degenerative mitral valve regurgitation. Mitral valve regurgitation is the most common form of heart valve disease with an estimated 4 million people in the U.S. having significant mitral valve regurgitation.

MitraClip procedure at the Beaumont Tyner Center

Today’s patient, from northern Michigan, suffered from severe mitral valve regurgitation.

“The MitraClip gives us the opportunity to help patients with severe mitral valve regurgitation that in the past did not have any options,” stated George Hanzel, M.D., Director of Cardiac Catheterization Laboratories at Beaumont, Royal Oak.

Dr. Robert Safian, Director of the Center for Innovation and Research in Cardiovascular Diseases, added, “Beaumont’s Center for Innovation and Research in Cardiovascular Diseases offers the most innovative therapies to our patients, many of whom have been searching for treatment options. The availability of MitraClip allows us to treat patients who are too high risk for surgery and have no other options for treatment, with minimal risk.”


The MitraClip procedure takes place in the Tyner Center, our hybrid operating room.

The FDA approved the use of the MitraClip in October 2013 to treat high-risk patients with degenerative mitral valve regurgitation. Surgery is typically not an option for these patients because of the severity of their condition.

In 2008, Beaumont was the first hospital in Metro Detroit to treat patients in a clinical study evaluating the MitraClip system to repair the mitral valve without heart surgery.

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Beaumont Doctor Climbs Mount Olympus after Cardiac Rehab

Dr. Alexander climbingby Thomas J. Alexander, M.D., Beaumont gastroenterologist and cardiac rehabilitation patient

What’s your Olympus?

Beaumont’s cardiac rehabilitation program is staffed by highly-trained nurses and physiologists who are attuned to the special needs of the cardiac patient. I say this not just because I work at Beaumont, but I was a patient there as well. The degree of medical supervision is quite unlike what one commonly finds at most local health clubs. Staying within your heart rate and perceived exertion ranges is the mantra we all learn. We’re also educated regarding potential adverse signs and symptoms – and the need to decrease exercise intensity when these occur. Our resting and exercise vital signs and heart rhythms are periodically monitored, giving us a measure of reassurance. A defibrillator and crash cart are also available for rare emergencies that may occur. Strength and balance training are emphasized in the Advanced Training program; staff taught me how to progress from moderate to vigorous exercise, sensibly and safely.

My initial goal in cardiac rehab was to prevent another cardiac “event,” and there is plenty of scientific evidence to support this notion. As I progressed, I found that I was able to do things I previously could not have done, even decades earlier. Hey, muscle is probably the only organ that one can get to regenerate. Soon, I set my sights even higher.

I decided to climb Mount Olympus in Greece.

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Update in Women’s Heart Health

Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in women, affecting 500,000 women annually.  Women are more likely than men to die after a first heart attack and are even more likely to suffer a second heart attack.

Dr. Pam Marcovitz, medical director of Beaumont’s Ministrelli Women’s Heart Center, led the Update in Women’s Heart Health conference that focused on highlighting gender differences in the identification and treatment of heart disease.

“A startling number of women, almost half, say they would not call 911 when they are experiencing heart attack symptoms. Calling 911 for symptoms of heart attack is critical in order to receive life-saving treatment with stenting. It is very important that we continue to educate women on the signs and symptoms of heart attack and share ways to prevent heart disease,” says Dr. Marcovitz.

Heart Conference - Evo

Beaumont’s Intergrative Medicine program includes a variety of treatments including acupuncture, massage therapy and guided imagery.

Also included in today’s conference was a focus on techniques for reducing stress and the benefits of yoga.

Gail Evo, director of integrative medicine at Beaumont, says, “Whether people are healthy or fighting an illness, it is important to have services and programs to support healing and wellness.”

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G’day Beaumont! | Australian surgeons visit Beaumont

Six of Australia’s most highly regarded surgeons have traveled to Michigan to visit Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak and specifically the new Tyner Center for Cardiovascular Interventions. During their visit, Beaumont surgeons are training them on how to perform minimally invasive valve and transcatheter aortic valve replacements (TAVR). These procedures will assist patients with aortic stenosis and mitral valve regurgitation who are too high risk for traditional open procedures.

Dr. Sakwa and two of the visiting Australian surgeons look in on a case in the Tyner Center.

Dr. Sakwa and two of the visiting Australian surgeons look in on a case in the Tyner Center.

“It’s the most impressive facility I’ve seen in the world,” says Philip Hayward, FRCS, cardiothoracic surgeon at Austin Hospital in Melbourne, Australia.

After touring the new center, Emily Granger, FRCS, cardiac surgeon from St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, Australia, said she’d love to find a way to get this cath lab/operating room back to Sydney with her.

Beaumont is one of the leaders in training physicians from around the world on minimally invasive heart valve and other structural heart procedures.  Beaumont’s cardiovascular surgeons perform one of the highest numbers of minimally invasive heart valve surgical procedures in the country.

Marc Sakwa, M.D., Beaumont cardiovascular surgeon, explained, “Having the Tyner Center for Cardiovascular Interventions not only allows us to be the leaders in minimally invasive heart valve surgery, but it also positions us to be the leaders for all of structural heart disease.”


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George W. Bush has stent procedure | What is a stent?

by Steven Ajluni, M.D. & Abhay Bilolikar, M.D., Beaumont cardiologists

(Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

(Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

According to statements from former President George W. Bush’s office, Bush underwent a procedure Tuesday morning to have a stent placed in his heart one day after a blockage was discovered in an artery.

What is a stent and how does it help a blockage in the arteries?

Dr. Ajluni: A stent functions as a scaffolding, which when deployed over a balloon, can reshape and restore coronary blood flow in an affected coronary artery.  It often will have a drug coating on a metallic scaffold that helps prevent the formation of scar tissue (which can lead to recurrent obstruction).

Dr. Bilolikar: One would receive a stent for many reasons. The most common reason is an acute coronary syndrome, which results in the coronary artery temporarily being blocked. We typically call an acute coronary syndrome a heart attack, but that term is quite vague and may be misleading.

People may also receive a stent to their coronary artery if they have persistent symptoms of coronary ischemia or low blood flow to the heart muscle. This is generally identified by stress testing, which will be able to identify areas of the heart which may not be getting enough blood flow. A stent is then placed in the artery to resume adequate blood flow to that part of the heart muscle. In the case of the President, his stress test was abnormal which prompted him to undergo a CAT scan of his coronary arteries. This CAT scan showed the blocked artery, which prompted his cardiac catheterization procedure and eventual stent placement. It is not clear from the published reports if he was having cardiac symptoms prior to this investigation.

How common are heart stents?

Dr. Bilolikar: We hope that we do not have to put stents into patients, as having a stent requires the use of long-term anti-platelet agents and the cardiac catheterization, like any procedure, carries some risk. In general, it is not common for patients to receive stents, however we are always available to place them as needed, particularly in the cases of heart attacks. Beaumont pioneered the earliest research trials of angioplasty and stenting to save patient lives when they were having a heart attack.

How is Beaumont leading the way in heart stenting?

Dr. Ajluni: Beaumont has been a leading institution in the setting of coronary stenting, particularly in the setting of acute coronary syndromes, and its pioneer groundbreaking research efforts have helped shape our current understanding and treatment of this disease.

Dr. Bilolikar: At Beaumont, we are again pioneering the path with regards to stenting with the use of bioabsorbable stents. These stents are placed into the artery to keep it open and eventually ‘dissolve’ after a period of time. These stents are made of absorbable polymers, which mean that they are not permanently in the body, but are very effective at opening a narrowed artery and keeping it open for a very long time. They provide the advantages of a metal stent but eliminate the complications of the stent abruptly closing in the future. Beaumont is one of only a few select U.S. centers participating in the research trial utilizing these stents.

This information is for educational purposes only. Drs. Ajluni and Bilolikar have no first-hand knowledge of Bush’s case.
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Randy Travis suffers from viral cardiomyopathy – what is it?

by Neil Bilolikar, M.D., Beaumont cardiologist

(Photo: Reed Saxon Copyright 2004;No Tennessean)

(Photo: Reed Saxon Copyright 2004;No Tennessean)

Country singer Randy Travis, 54, underwent heart surgery today, after suffering from complications of recently acquired viral cardiomyopathy.

What exactly is viral cardiomyopathy? Viral cardiomyopathy is one of many dilated cardiomyopathies, which is the result of an infection with a virus. The types of viruses that can cause a cardiomyopathy range from the same viruses that cause the common cold and flu, to more extreme viruses. A patient may contract an illness where they are affected by this virus, and the virus may eventually affect the heart either by causing direct action against the heart muscle or through inflammatory effects.

Symptoms of viral cardiomyopathy include:

  • shortness of breath
  • fatigue
  • chest pain

The syndrome can present in the acute phase as a myocarditis, the symptoms for which can mimic a heart attack. The patient and treating ER doctors may think the patient is having a heart attack. However, most commonly, the patient will present one to two weeks after developing a viral illness, and feel short of breath, tired and possible occasional chest discomfort.

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