Penn Heart and Vascular

Penn Heart and Vascular Update

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Simple Food Swaps for a Healthier Party

Wings, chili, nachos, dips - all the makings for a great party. But not the healthiest choices when it comes to eating. With the big game fast approaching, ideas for party foods are flying around the Web. Take the opportunity to evaluate some of your favorite snacks and decide on ways to increase their health factor.

Follow these simple food swaps and partytime won't feel so unhealthy.

Dips - No need to pass on creamy dips for the party. Swap out the sour cream for greek yogurt for less fat and more protein. Or go another route all together and serve hummus or guacamole instead. Guacamole is made from avocados which contain monounsaturated heart healthy fats. Hummus is made primarily from nutrient rich and fiber filled chick peas. Both options are a better choice!

Try this Garlicky Greek Yogurt Dip from the American Heart Association. 

Chili - If you're serving this hearty meal there are a few things you can do to increase the nutrients and make it a bit more heart healthy. Swap out the ground beef for turkey, double the beans and add more tomatoes and peppers for extra nutrition.

Take a look at these 32 top rated chilis from Cooking Light for some inspiration. 

Buffalo Wings - This classic party food is also one of the unhealthiest around. Satisfying the craving while making it healthier is possible. Try a homemade version instead. If marinated in a hot sauce prior to cooking, oven wings can yield a flavor that meets or beats your favorite restaurant without all of the butter, salt, and oil!

Check out Alton Brown's taste test and see for yourself. 

French Fries - Fries can be a great finger food that everyone enjoys but can also come packed in sodium, in a drive-thru. Increase the flavor and the health factor by making sweet potato oven fries and go light on the salt; try sea salt instead. Not only do sweet potatoes put a twist on the classic fry, they're more nutritious to boot and the larger sea salt flakes mean you'll need less to add flavor.

Check out for a highly rated, easy Sweet Potato Fry Recipe

Nachos - A classic appetizer, nachos can easily be converted into a vehicle for nutrients and veggies. Decrease the sodium and fat by baking your own tortilla chips using corn tortillas, cut into triangles. Then add plenty of protein-rich pinto beans and load up on fresh vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, onions and lettuce. Go light on the cheese and sour cream and use a 2% variety instead of full fat.

Chips - Swap out chips for popcorn - all the flavor with much less fat! Air popcorn with a dash of butter, spices like cumin, paprika, and chili powder, and sprinkled with sharp cheddar will be sure to satisfy your craving.

Try this recipe for Game Day Spicy Popcorn

Pizza - Go easy on, or even eliminate, the salty meats. Not only are these toppings loaded with salt, they are usually chock full of saturated fat, a double-whammy for your heart. Instead of the meat, try adding extra veggies for more flavor and less calories.

There is no need to stay home from the party this year. These heart healthy ideas give you an even better reason to go - show off your cooking AND feel good about it at the same time!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

7 Things to Know about the Flu If You Have Heart Disease

People with heart disease take notice: this year's flu season is shaping up to be a particularly nasty one. More people this year are reporting having the flu since 2008. And the worst may be yet to come, as flu infections typically only peak in January or February.
The flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. With each infection comes a range of dreadful symptoms, and the possibility of infecting countless others with something as simple as a hand shake.
If you have heart disease, having the flu is nothing to sneeze at. Here are 7 things you should know about the flu if you have heart disease:
  1. An annual flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chance that you will become infected with the virus and spread it to others. It is recommended that everyone six months and older be vaccinated. Vaccination is particularly important for those at high risk of serious complications - including people with heart disease. A word of caution: there are some important exceptions to who should get flu vaccination.

  2. Even in January and beyond, it is still worth getting the flu shot if you have not already. Flu season can last until May, so you still have time to get vaccinated. Just remember, it takes about two weeks from the time of the shot until the protective antibodies are developed.

  3. The flu vaccine does not protect against all strains of the influenza virus, but even so, it the best way to reduce your chances of infection. It is still possible to get the flu even if you have been vaccinated. However, studies show that the flu vaccination is associated with lower rates of cardiac events among those with heart disease.

  4. Maintain a supply of your medications during flu season. Daily medications can be an extremely crucial part of managing heart disease. You don't want to have to run out to the pharmacy if you are feeling under the weather.

  5. If you have symptoms of the flu such as fever, chills and aches, don't wait before visiting the doctor. It is important to act quickly if you have heart disease. Antiviral medications such as Tamiflu can decrease the length of sickness if taken within the first few days.

  6. Have a conversation with your physician before you receive the nasal spray influenza vaccination. This form of the vaccine can cause problems in those with certain conditions such as heart failure, and often the shot is the preferred method of vaccination.

  7. Continue to take medications even if you have the flu. Don't stop taking your regularly prescribed medications. If you have a concern about any of them make sure you call your primary care physician or cardiologist.
It is important to stay on top of your health and listen to your body all year long; especially when flu season comes around.
If you haven't already, make sure to get your flu vaccine and it helps, keep these tips nearby. And, as always, practice the proper hand washing technique.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Miracles at Penn Heart and Vascular

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." 
- Albert Einstein

Miracles happen all around us. And Penn Heart and Vascular is a part of countless miracles each day. Over the years, the stories of patients that have gained a quality of life they never dreamed possible or accomplished life goals they never thought would happen is overwhelming.

As you celebrate this holiday season with loved ones, take the opportunity to reflect on some of the miracles in your own life as well as some of the remarkable patient stories that we are so thankful for.

The Burchers

Miracles happen at any age. Just before turning 90, Joe was gasping for air and in need of a new aortic heart valve. TAVR, a minimally invasive approach, turned his life around. Months later, Vida, his wife of 65 years, found herself at Penn for the same procedure. Today, with healed hearts, they are enjoying life with their five children and 10 grandchildren.


Miracles happen in an instant. Russell walked into Chester County Hospital’s ER barely alive and in the midst of a heart attack. With a 100% blockage of one of the arteries in his heart, Russell didn't have much time. Doctors responded quickly by opening the artery and saving his life. Nine days later, Russell walked out of the hospital ready to celebrate the holidays with his family.


Miracles happen when you decide not to settle. As a nurse, Bonnie knew something was wrong when her leg became pale and lifeless. After being diagnosed with Cystic Adventitial Disease, she spent seven years going through procedures with no relief and her quality of life decreasing every day. That's when she came to Penn. The Vascular Team gave Bonnie her life back. As the clock ticks down on 2014...she'll be back acting as her husband's sous chef for New Year's dinner!


Miracles happen when you least expect them. Erin was 13 weeks pregnant when she went into sudden cardiac arrest while teaching gym class. After a school nurse responded with an AED, Erin was rushed to a good local hospital, but they couldn't figure out what was wrong. So she asked to be transferred to Penn. This December, Erin, her husband and a new family addition are together to celebrate an important milestone: baby's first Christmas.

Ready to schedule an appointment?
Find a Penn Cardiologist today

Monday, November 24, 2014

Food Swaps: Tips for a Heart Healthy Thanksgiving

A heart healthy Thanksgiving can be hassle-free. Just follow these simple food swaps!


No need to swap out the Turkey on Thanksgiving. Just make sure you remove the skin and go for the white meat of the turkey breast.

Top Tip: Remove skin and roast in olive oil and seasoning to get that golden brown look.


Use multigrain or whole wheat bread instead of traditional white bread. Swap chicken broth for reduced-sodium chicken broth. Just as delicious with much less sodium.


Green Bean Casserole

Keep the green beans (fresh or frozen) and swap the canned soup for low fat milk. Still as creamy, but without the fat and sodium.


Cranberry Sauce

Make your own cranberry sauce! Combine cranberries (fresh or frozen), Splenda and water; simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat, add sugar-free gelatin and refrigerate. Hassle-free, much less sugar and just as tasty.

Chileshe Nkonde-Price, MD, is director of the Women's Cardiovascular Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
For information about the Penn Medicine Women’s Cardiovascular Center, or to schedule an appointment, please call 215-615-4949 or 800-789-PENN.

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