Penn Heart and Vascular

Penn Heart and Vascular Update

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It Takes a Village to Heal a Heart

A heart transplant is not just an eight-hour surgery. It is also the coming together of doctors, nurses and support staff to prepare the patient before surgery and also be there for the patient and family throughout the recovery. And for Bob Goodman, all of these people take up a large part of his new heart.

Bob was placed on the transplant list the Tuesday before Thanksgiving with his wife Patti by his side. They remember the moment that their nurse, Mia, came to tell them that a heart was available. At first, a feeling of disbelief ran through them, but that was quickly followed by reserved excitement. High-fiving friends as he headed down to surgery, Bob was ready for what was ahead: a long road to recovery, but a road leading to a newfound life.
Bob and his wife Patti visit the hospital room where Bob was told his new heart was ready for transplant.
That recovery began the moment he left the operating room and headed to the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU). Heavily sedated, this is a time that Bob does not remember, but one that his wife Patti and daughter Stephanie remember well. "The SICU staff was prepared. The nurses in the unit were the most competent, caring, professional individuals that I have ever met," Patti says. "Day in and day out they educated us on every single thing that was happening."

Not only did the nursing staff take care of his physical ailments, but they also educated, encouraged, and in many ways, became a constant in Bob's life. Friendly faces such as Rachael Cress and Stephanie Barlow, nurses on the Silverstein 10 floor at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania , will forever be engrained in Bob's memory. As Bob says, "Their care from the moment I woke up and throughout my days in the hospital was more than just clinical. They were prepared for the journey that a transplant patient was on, they had done this before. The education they provided, their encouragement, knowledge and passion is something I will take with me."
Stephanie Barlow and Rachael Cress  – Penn nurses who cared for Bob after his heart transplant.

What goes into our bodies makes a difference, especially in transplant patients.

After discharge from the hospital Bob was having trouble gaining weight. He had become a diabetic secondary to the steroid treatments needed during heart failure. Enter registered dietician Kathleen King. Her knowledge of this subset of patients was crucial in Bob's recovery. A personalized plan was put together and Bob was able to gain weight and energy.
Bob with heart transplant nurse practitioner Mieke Maslanek and patient services coordinator Ashley Wetherell.

A heart transplant patient receives care from over 20 different disciplines while in the hospital.

Bob with cardiac electrophysiologist
David Callans, MD
The medications of a transplant patient can be overwhelming. It is important that patients and their caregivers know the roles of each medication. Bob's education began during his post-transplant hospital stay, but that education continued with Mieke Maslanek, heart transplant nurse practitioner and Bob's post-transplant coordinator.

Continuity of Care is Important

Throughout Bob's journey, he never felt alone. There were people with him at every turn to offer guidance, support and wisdom.
Nearly one year later, Bob continues to have follow-up appointments with physicians Dr. David Callans, Dr. Lee Goldberg and Dr. Jessica Dine, and Mieke is always available when a question arises or to coordinate care.

They were with him in the beginning and continue to be there every step of the way.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

6 Ways to Supercharge Your Health with Blueberries – Recipe Roundup

Blueberries can be enjoyed year round, but in this area, they are especially plentiful during the summer months.

Whether you choose to pick-your-own (to get some extra exercise) or grab them from the farmers market or grocery store, blueberries are a very healthy choice for snacking and baking.

It's been scientifically proven that blueberries have cancer-fighting properties. This "superfood" contains flavonoids that have a striking effect on plaque buildup in the body's arteries. It doesn't take much to see these health benefits either. Make sure to eat at least three 1/2 cup servings per week!

Here, we've compiled 6 heart healthy blueberry recipes for working more blueberries into your diet.

*Bonus tip and recipes: Blueberries hold up extraordinarily well when frozen, so stock up in the summertime. To freeze blueberries, just dry them thoroughly and place into airtight freezer bags or containers. Then, when you're ready to bake with them, it's as easy as taking them out of the freezer.
Do you have any favorite blueberry recipes? Share them in the comments below!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bob Goodman Talks about Living with Heart Failure and Giving Back

Bob Goodman is a South Jersey resident of 30 years who is
participating in the 2014 Philadelphia Heart Walk. Here, he answers questions every heart failure patient should read.

Bob Goodman and Penn nurses Rachel Cress and Stephanie Barlow. Bob is participating in the
2014 Philadelphia Heart Walk as a way to say thanks to those that saved his life.

After being diagnosed with an incredibly rare heart condition, Bob needed a heart transplant. Now, several months after the transplant, Bob is gearing up for the 2014 Philadelphia Heart Walk. Here’s what he had to say, when asked why he’s so passionate and involved in this year’s walk.

Why are you participating in the Heart Walk?
"It is a wonderful way to recognize my one year anniversary of receiving a heart transplant. There were so many people involved in my care up to and after my transplant and many of them will be at the Heart Walk. I just want to personally thank them. It also represents the beginning of my getting back to a normal lifestyle –a comeback of sorts. And last, but not least, I want to support the movement to bring attention to heart disease, to encourage others to prevent it and to help support cardiovascular research."

"I've heard many hospitals talk about being 'multi-disciplinary', but at Penn, I saw this kind of teamwork first hand. They consulted with one another, and they acted as a team."
— Bob Goodman, heart transplant patient

What was it like being in heart failure?
"It was horrible. I was used to leading an active lifestyle, but in heart failure, I couldn't travel to visit my daughter, and I ended up messing up vacation plans that were in the works. When I did go on vacation, I wasn't the same. We were at Disney World with my daughter and her friend and I passed out and had to be taken to the local hospital. I didn't have the stamina or energy that I used to."

What would you say to patients going through heart failure?
"My answer is simple, and it is something that I didn't know back then but something that I know now. There is treatment for all of this! Do your best to keep a good attitude and keep motivated. So much of what you can do to get through your illness is your attitude. You need to be in a good place in your head. And lastly, don't be afraid to lean on those that are there to support you – a spouse, a partner, a friend - someone else with who will likely hear those things you've missed. You don't always hear everything correctly when you're at the doctors – you may be emotional that day or not feeling well – and you might miss something important."

How did you feel about being diagnosed with cardiac sarcoidosis?
My feelings were very mixed. There was fear. I had a confirmed diagnosis of sarcoidosis, and there was not a lot of information about it when compared to other heart conditions. No one knows how I got it or exactly how to treat it, and that is scary. There was anger - you go through the "Why me?" phase. But there was also a sort of relief in getting a name on it, knowing that there was some work done on it.

You came to Penn after your journey with heart disease had already begun. How did you feel about Penn?
"I felt comfort from the very moment that I arrived. I knew I was at a place where they finally got it. These guys knew what they were doing. From that moment, I never once felt any differently. I've heard many hospitals talk about being 'multi-disciplinary', but at Penn, I saw this kind of teamwork first hand. They consulted with one another, and they acted as a team. This was not done once or twice but all the time, and it continues to be done. It was amazing care."

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

U.S. News & World Report Names Penn Heart and Vascular 7th in the Nation

Penn Heart and Vascular Center is excited to announce that the Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania–Penn Presbyterian (HUP/PPMC) is now ranked 7th in the nation for Cardiology and Heart Surgery by U.S. News & World Report.

In addition, HUP/PPMC as a whole has made the Honor Roll and is ranked the 7th adult hospital in the nation. This Honor Roll recognizes "the small number of hospitals that are unusually competent across a range of specialties, not just one or two," according to US News & World Report. HUP/PPMC was the only hospital in the Philadelphia region that made the Honor Roll.

The Hospitals of the University of Pennsylvania–Penn Presbyterian is ranked 7th in the nation.

U.S. News & World Report also recognizes hospitals that offer the best overall care to patients by region. HUP/PPMC was named the #1 hospital in the region.

U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals rankings are published annually. To compile the report, the publication analyzes many important factors in patient care, including survival rates, hospital reputation, and patient safety.

The Best Hospital report and Honor Roll also pay special attention to patient conditions and specific cases that require an advanced level of expertise.

Learn how U.S. News & World Report ranked the best hospitals.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Don't Let Vein Problems Stop You This Summer

Summer is here and that means shorts, skirts and bathing suits. But, are vein problems keeping you from enjoying the warm breeze and waters of summer? You’re not alone. An estimated 50% of women and 25% of men suffer from varicose and/or spider veins.

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are enlarged veins that are most commonly found in the legs and feet. They occur when the blood that normally flows up the leg travels down the leg, causing veins to enlarge, twist and bulge. Varicose veins usually occur in the superficial veins just under the skin, but can also be a sign of a deep vein problem.

Common causes include:

  • Age
  • Birth control pills
  • Genetics
  • Hormone replacement therapy
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Professions that require prolonged standing or sitting
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Trauma

While unsightly varicose veins cause a cosmetic concern for patients, they can also cause lower leg swelling and pain. Legs may feel tired or heavy or may develop a burning sensation as this vascular disease goes untreated. In more severe cases, varicose veins may cause the skin to change color, resulting in eczema, ulceration, bleeding and/or pigmentation changes. If left untreated, varicose veins usually worsen over time.

Spider Veins

Spider veins are very thin, small, purplish-blue or red veins that can occur anywhere on the leg. Spider veins can be isolated in clusters and often look like spider webs or starbursts. These veins are more common in women and often occur after pregnancy. Spider veins may also cause pain, discoloration and occasionally may lead to bleeding from a ruptured vessel.

Summer Free Vein Screenings at Penn

Screening is the first step in determining the extent of vein issues. Penn offers free, 15-minute screenings with vascular medicine specialists.

Penn Presbyterian Medical Center
Heart and Vascular Pavilion
Monday, July 14, 2014
Monday, August 11, 2014
3 to 5pm

Penn Cardiology Cherry Hill
1400 East Route 70
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
4 to 6pm
Call 800-789-PENN (7366) to schedule your free vein screening today!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Diagnosed in the Nick of Time - Bob’s Cardiac Sarcoidosis

Bob Goodman is a South Jersey resident of 30 years who is
participating in the 2014 Philadelphia Heart Walk. Here's why:

Bob Goodman's own body was attacking his heart and nobody knew it - not even his doctors. His symptoms pointed to a common diagnosis, a cardiac arrhythmia, but Bob wasn't getting better with treatment.
In the summer of 2008, Bob Goodman was leading a healthy and active lifestyle – exercising, eating the right foods and getting regular health checkups – nothing unusual there, except in how ideal his lifestyle appeared.

That is, until he went to a routine doctor's appointment. Sitting with a blood pressure cuff on one arm and his pulse being taken on the other, Bob could tell something was not quite right. According to the doctor, his heart rate was in the 30s -- shockingly low, even for a fit guy like Bob.

What soon began was a rollercoaster of events, fraught with misdiagnoses, ineffective treatments and endless questions of what could possibly be the cause.

After six months of testing at a local hospital to explore the reason for his low heart rate, Bob still didn't have a diagnosis. It's at that point he decided it was time for a second opinion. He traveled to a distant teaching hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with bradycardia - a heart rhythm disorder. And, at the advice of his physicians, he opted to have a pacemaker implanted to help regulate his dysfunctional heart rate.
Following the procedure, Bob felt good. So good in fact, then he went on to train for and complete a half-marathon shortly afterwards.

Then, a drastic turn of events struck in the summer of 2011. Bob began having recurring episodes of what he thought was heat stroke - he felt light headed and out of breath.

After being evaluated by a local cardiologist, it turned out not to be heat stroke at all but a potentially fatal cardiac arrhythmia called ventricular tachycardia (VT). Bob's physicians recommended his pacemaker be replaced with a new one that included an Automatic Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (AICD). The AICD would give Bob's heart a shock if he started having life threatening arrhythmias. Again, life for Bob went on, months passed, and he was back to living his healthy lifestyle.

At a later check-up, it was quickly apparent that Bob had been extremely lucky. His implanted defibrillator was working, but it was not helping his cardiac arrhythmia. In just two months, his heart had gone into VT an astounding 2,700 times. With his options for a cure dwindling, Bob elected to have a cardiac ablation, a procedure used to correct rhythm problems by destroying the tissue that is responsible for the arrhythmia. Unfortunately, the ablation was not successful, and Bob was still going into VT. Something else had to be done. He needed a specialist that was an expert at specialized types of cardiac ablation procedures not available everywhere.

Enter Penn Medicine

Knowing that it was outside their realm of expertise, Bob's doctors at his local hospital referred him to David Callans, MD, because of his reputation for performing specialized cardiac ablations. Bob knew that research was important when choosing a provider because he had worked in healthcare for years. So he began asking his friends and family if they knew Dr. Callans at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The consensus was in, and, as Bob puts it, all remarked that "No one has more experience."
Bob and his wife, Patti, arriving at the Penn Heart and Vascular Center in Philadelphia, PA

The answer was there

After watching the arrhythmia continue to occur even after a highly specialized ablation was performed, Dr. Callans knew there had to be an underlying reason it wasn't working. Dr. Callans made a diagnosis that no one else had made and one that would save Bob's life, sarcoidosis - an extremely rare condition where the body's own immune system attacks targeted organs. Sarcoidosis most commonly affects the lungs, but for Bob, this disease was attacking and destroying his heart. A PET scan was performed and his diagnosis was confirmed.

It's at that point that Dr. Callans referred him internally, to heart failure specialist Lee Goldberg, MD, and an individualized plan was put together. A sarcoidosis expert from Penn, pulmonologist Jessica Dine, MD, was consulted because of her experience in treating this rare condition that most commonly affects the lungs. Bob was put on steroids, and his condition improved. After just 10 months, treatment was stopped. Bob was getting better, and the cardiac sarcoidosis remained dormant - for a while.

It was just a matter of time

The following summer, Bob was not feeling well, again. He was feeling bloated and was retaining fluids. After tests to rule out other conditions, the answer became quite clear. His heart was failing him. In just a few short years, Bob Goodman went from being an active, middle aged man that took steps to prevent cardiac disease to being placed on a heart transplant waiting list, where time was not in his favor.

The Heart Transplant Team at Penn took over his care. Unusually, just days later, Bob was notified that a heart was waiting for him. His life was about to change, yet again. In November of 2013, Bob Goodman received a new heart with his wife of 37 years, Patti, and his 21 year old daughter, Stephanie, standing by in the waiting room.
Bob at a checkup with Penn Heart Failure and Transplant cardiologist Kenneth B. Margulies, MD
For five weeks after the transplant, Bob was taken care of day in and day out by hospital staff, undergoing extensive rehabilitation. On the day he walked out of Penn with a new heart, Bob had the same old spirit and healthy attitude that he had when beginning this journey just a few years before.

Now at home surrounded by family and friends and with new priorities in life, Bob continues his cardiac rehab, and is getting ready to celebrate the one year mark as a walker in Penn Medicine's 2014 Heart Walk Team!

He knows that his story and his condition are incredibly rare, which is partly why Bob is so adamant about sharing his journey with others. In coming to Penn, he found more than answers to a medical mystery; he found a level of care, compassion and understanding that few institutions can match. And in doing so, he regained the zeal for life he might otherwise have lost.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Cast Your Vote for the 2014 Penn Heart Walk T-Shirt!

For the 2014 American Heart Association Philadelphia Heart Walk, you have the opportunity to choose which long sleeve t-shirt will be distributed to all Penn Medicine registered walkers who raise a minimum of $25.

Heart Walk Shirt A (1) Heart Walk Shirt B

Heart Walk Shirt C Heart Walk Shirt D

The survey will run from June 25 through July 25, so
Cast Your Vote Today!

The 2014 Philadelphia Heart Walk will take place on Saturday, November 8 at Citizens Bank Park, so remember to mark your calendars and visit Penn's Team Page to join the team.

If you have any questions about becoming a team captain, registering as a walker or making a donation, contact Cara Feldman at