Penn Heart and Vascular

Penn Heart and Vascular Update

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Diabetes & Your Heart [Infographic]

November is American Diabetes Month. Did you know:
  • Heart disease and stroke is the number one cause of death in people living with type 2 diabetes.
  • Females with diabetes have a greater risk of mortality than males with diabetes.
  • The American Heart Association lists diabetes as one of seven major controllable risk factors of heart disease.
Know your risk for diabetes and take action. Share this infographic with your family and friends, and help a loved one today.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Live Web Chat: Treating Heart Rhythm Disorders

There is a lot to consider when choosing the best option for your heart rhythm disorder. Having answers to the right questions can help you make an informed decision about the best treatment option.

Have questions about heart rhythm disorders?

Join an online video chat to get your cardiac arrhythmia questions answered. Penn Medicine's Jeffrey Luebbert, MD, and Satoshi Furukawa, MD, will be available to answer these questions, as well as yours:
  • What are the different types of heart rhythm disorders?

  • What are the initial signs and symptoms?

  • What other health risks are associated with rhythm disorders?

  • Someone in my family has a heart rhythm disorder, am I at risk?

  • What's an appropriate level of physical activity? Are there foods or drinks I should avoid or add to my diet?

  • What non-surgical treatment options are there? Is there a common drug therapy?

  • Will I have to take medication for the rest of my life?

  • When are pacemakers used as the treatment option vs. an implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD)?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Contributing to the 2014 Philadelphia Heart Walk

The 2014 Philadelphia Heart Walk is just under three weeks away. If you are looking for some creative ways to raise money in this last month, we've got some for you. If you are looking for a way to pitch in even though you can't make the Heart Walk, we've got some ideas for that as well. Everyone has the opportunity to help in some way.

In the Office:
  • Super Box: Ask your co-workers and friends to put their extra change in a "SuperBox". Decorate the box or cover it with inspirational quotes or designs and place it near the water cooler or kitchen. You could also translate this idea to your home and encourage your relatives and friends to donate. 
  • Voicemail: Change your voicemail and answering machine messages to include information about your participation in the Heart Walk and let people know how they can help. Tell your friends, family and colleagues to visit for all the info they need! 
  • Add a note to your electronic signature: Get in the habit of signing your emails with your name followed by Heart Walk donation information. 
    • Example: Help me raise money for the American Heart Association (AHA) and its fight against stroke and heart disease! Donate to my team now (link to team page) or visit for more information. 
At Home: 
  • Email your friends: Email everyone in your contact list and invite them to visit your team page. 
  • Eagles football party: Host an Eagles football party at your house/apartment. Every time the words "run" or "walk" are said by the announcers, everyone antes up $1 in a pledge bowl. 
  • Social Media: "Like" Penn Medicine Heart and Vascular on Facebook and keep up to date with ways to help spread the word for the Heart Walk. Creating a conversation about heart disease helps to spread awareness. Use the hashtag #PhillyHeartWalk. 
  • Game night: Host a game or karaoke night and charge an admission fee of $5 per person. Help your friends and guests to help supply the punch and snacks for the evening. This makes for a fun way to raise money.  
In the Community: 
Learn more about the 2014 Penn Heart Walk Team at

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Preparing for a Doctor's Appointment

Do these 6 things before your next doctor's appointment
Whether it's going for a regular check up or seeing someone for a second opinion, doctor's appointments can often feel overwhelming. You may worry about getting bad news or feel concerned about the tests that may need to be performed. However, getting ready prior to the appointment can help decrease your anxiety.

Here are 6 things you can do to prepare for your next doctor's appointment:
  1. Create a list of current medications. Include the name of the medication, dosage, and how often you take it. It is a good idea to print this list off and keep it inside your wallet; as well as give a copy to a close friend or relative. Make a note of any concerns or questions you have about the medications you are taking.

  2. Remember your allergies or sensitivities. Include medications, foods and body care products. Often a food allergy can be associated with a medication so those are just as important to note.

  3. Document your family history. Be prepared to answer many questions about family history. If there are things that are very specific or you think you may forget, make sure to write them down.

  4. Bring your medical records. Your primary physician likely already has access to your full medical record, but make sure you communicate any changes or concerns since your last visit. If you are seeing a new doctor, call their office ahead of time to coordinate the delivery of your records. Prepare to communicate key issues from your medical history and be proactive about sharing issues you think are important. Finally, bring copies of films and test results that were performed since last seeing this doctor.

  5. Write down your questions. Due to the stress and anxiety that you may feel at the doctor's office, sometimes it is difficult to remember all the health questions you have had leading up to the appointment. To make sure you ask them, write your questions down ahead of time.

  6. Bring a family member or friend. Having support at your appointments can be helpful for a number of reasons. Your partner can help you remember what the doctor said during the appointment, they can help ask questions you may not think of, and of course, the extra moral support comes in handy too.
Think about or write down these six things and bring them to your next appointment. That way, you'll feel more relaxed and be more likely to cover what's important in your visit.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ejection Fraction: What the Numbers Mean

Ejection fraction is a measurement that can gauge how healthy the heart is.

A low ejection fraction number can be an indicator of heart failure and can lead to a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Swelling in the legs and feet

There are two types of ejection fraction: left ventricular and right ventricular. Left ventricular measures how much blood gets pumped from the left ventricle with each contraction. Typically, ejection fraction refers to left ventricular. Right ventricular ejection fraction measures how much blood is pumped out of the right side of the heart, to the lungs.

What are the tests used to determine ejection fraction?

  • Echocardiography – the most common test used to measure ejection fraction.
  • Cardiac catheterization
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Nuclear medicine scan
  • CT (computerized tomography)

What do ejection fraction numbers mean?

  • 55 to 70% – Normal heart function.
  • 40 to 55% – Below normal heart function. Can indicate previous heart damage from heart attack or cardiomyopathy.
  • Higher than 75% – Can indicate a heart condition like hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a common cause of sudden cardiac arrest.
  • Less than 40% – May confirm the diagnosis of heart failure.

How can you improve ejection fraction?

  • Limit salt – the average American eats nearly 3,400mg of sodium a day – more than double the recommended amount.
  • Watch your fluid intake – talk with your cardiologist about how much fluid to consume each day.
  • Exercise – try some type of physical activity 30 minutes each day, three days a week.

After the initial ejection fraction measurement, your doctor will check the number as needed, depending on your condition. Because ejection fraction is just one measure of how well the heart is working, even when this number is normal, the heart may not be functioning properly.

Heart failure is a complex disease, but it is manageable – especially when you are armed with the right information.

Our heart failure team is "certified and advanced" by the Joint Commission, meaning we specialize in treating patients with heart failure. We also take the time to answer all of your questions, including how to find a heart failure specialist near you.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

7 Heart Healthy Apple Recipes

We're in the thick of apple season here in the Northeast. Whether you pick your own, purchase them from your local farmers' market or at the local store, there isn't anything much better in early fall than a crisp apple or the smell of apples cooking. It's a lucky coincidence that apples happen to rank high on the healthy fruit meter with a powerful store of nutrients in each bite.

One medium size apple offers:
  • Up to 4 grams of soluble fiber which is known to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Up to 8 grams of Vitamin C - an immune boosting nutrient
  • Antioxidants such as anthocyanins which have been know to decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
Below are recipes to help you boost your health and please your senses. 

What are your favorite ways to eat apples? 

Photo credit: Million Hearts

Photo credit: Go Red For Women

Photo credit: Eating Well

Photo credit: American Heart Association

Photo credit: Real Food Real Deals

Photo credit:

Photo credit: Eating Well

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How My Priorities Changed After Heart Transplant

Image of Bob GoodmanBob Goodman, heart transplant recipient, reminisces on how a drastic illness caused him to question his priorities in life. Bob is joining Penn Medicine in the 2014 Philadelphia Heart Walk.

I received my new heart on November 24, 2013, but it took a couple of months for it to dawn on me that I almost died before receiving it. In fact, I had been walking around near death for a few months and didn't know it – no one did. Once that realization finally reached the forefront of my brain, I was already setting new priorities.

The Saturday after my transplant, I said to my wife Patti that we needed to take advantage of my new heart and we needed to share our experience with others. I must have been given this heart, especially so quickly, for some reason. (Just three days after being placed on the transplant list, I was told a heart was available).

I realized very quickly that I had to take care of myself and my family. That was most important and, quite frankly, it never occurred to me that it wasn't my first priority – and that it will always be my first priority.

As we started to think about how we take advantage of my new heart, it became clear that my second priority was an entirely an altruistic effort. It started with talking with a few other heart transplant patients, notably the incredibly inspirational Derek Fitzgerald, and doing a lot of reading through web searches and websites; as well as organizations that Derek referred me to. Several staff members at the Penn Medicine Heart & Vascular Center were very helpful as well. I'm now participating in activities on behalf of Penn Medicine's Heart & Vascular Center; am on two committees of the New Jersey chapter of the American Heart Association; and I'm involved with efforts associated with the Gift of Life.

My third priority revolves around business and ties together my 40 plus years of business experience in the healthcare industry and my patient experience of the last year. I am now actively seeking opportunities to become a board member of a company focused on life sciences, medical devices or a provider of services. I feel this will allow me to contribute my insights, my experience and just to give back.

Lastly, I am in the process of re-starting my 15-year-old healthcare consulting firm and similar to my board participation efforts, I am in the midst of networking to re-establish myself with current, former and new colleagues to secure a client base.

Always number one though will be my family. Their support and perseverance through the past few years motivates me to be the best husband and father I can be. And if I'm not well, I won't feel secure that my family is truly taken care of. These are my new priorities, which I have taken to...heart.