Posts tagged ‘heart disease’

Camp Lionheart: A place for young heart warriors

Camp LionheartSome young campers celebrated the fifth birthday of a little girl they never knew on Aug. 2, although they had a lot in common.

“My little girl was a heart warrior like you guys,” Williamsport resident Jennifer Ayers told the 15 campers at Camp Lionheart. “ It means a lot for me to be able to have this camp for you so you can meet other heart warriors.”

The inaugural session of Camp Lionheart at Camp Kirchenwald in Colebrook, Lebanon County welcomed campers age 11-18 who share an important bond with Ayer’s daughter, Ellie, who was born on Aug. 2, 2011 and died from cardiomyopathy (heart disease) on April 25, 2012.


August 10, 2016 at 3:12 pm 1 comment

New device offers option for atrial fibrillation patients

A new device and procedure now offered at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center may be an alternative to taking blood thinners for patients who have the most common form of atrial fibrillation – an irregular heart rhythm not caused by a heart valve problem.

Patients with atrial fibrillation often take blood thinners to reduce their risk of stroke. But blood thinners are not always tolerated long term due to increased bleeding risks with other medical conditions.    (more…)

April 20, 2016 at 9:58 am Leave a comment

Medical Center patient first in Pennsylvania to go home with total artificial heart

Before August 2012, if you had asked Bob Phillips of Palmyra, Pa. about his health, he would have told you he’s been nothing but healthy during his 73 years on this earth. No serious health concerns meant he had not been to a doctor in 25 years.

So he never expected to turn 74 amid a five-month stay at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center or that he would become a milestone in medical history.

Phillips has become the oldest in the United States and first person in Pennsylvania who has received a total artificial heart (TAH) to be discharged to live at home with a portable driver, the external power source for the heart, while awaiting a donor heart.

He never saw it coming.

“I was never sick,” Phillips said. “I was 73 years old and I thought if I had gotten that far I’d be cruising down the main stretch.”

On his way out, Bob Phillips is greeted by the Nittany Lion, who presents him with a ballcap and a t-shirt signed by well-wishers.

On his way out, Bob Phillips is greeted by the Nittany Lion, who presents him with a ballcap and a t-shirt signed by well-wishers.

Just a few short months ago, Phillips was returning from a Sunday afternoon trapshoot when he noticed an odd pain in his shoulders and chest. During his 30-minute drive home alone, the pain subsided and he thought nothing more of it. The next morning, he mowed the lawn and took his daily walk. His week continued as normal until Thursday afternoon, when the symptoms returned.

His wife Norma insisted he call a doctor immediately. He did so–reluctantly–and was told to go straight to the emergency room.

The couple learned that Phillips had suffered a massive heart attack. He was initially treated with two stents in his heart. He remained in cardiogenic shock and required therapy designed to give his heart time to rest. This therapy, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), uses a machine to do the work of the heart. An ultrasound later revealed a hole in the center of his heart and a heart rupture that was beyond repair.

His only option for survival was a total artificial heart connected to an external power source at all times.

Phillips was in a state of disbelief. How could his heart be damaged beyond repair?

“I always felt good; always exercised,” Phillips said. “I never dreamed that anything like this was happening to me. I was never doubled-over or short of breath or anything like the classic stuff you see.”

What he did not realize is he had coronary artery disease, and that led to advanced cardiogenic shock. On the spectrum of severity, his heart attack was the highest. (more…)

February 5, 2013 at 3:11 pm Leave a comment

Ongoing successful partnership between HVI and the I.O. Silver Foundation

I.O. Silver Foundation logoLarry Silver, M.D., could have spent the past 13 years of his retirement like many people do—relaxing, playing golf, traveling. But fortunately for regional heart patients, he has instead been a tireless advocate and community partner for the Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute (HVI) through his work with the I.O. Silver Foundation.

“HVI is the biggest thing in my life now,” Silver says. “I never dreamed of retiring and when I did, I missed the feeling of being needed. The foundation fills a little part of that, plus I’m astounded by the advances the team makes in heart disease treatment.”

Established in 1996 following the death of Larry’s father, I.O., the foundation has a simple mission of supporting quality cardiac care in central Pennsylvania while honoring the life of its namesake. Through its partnership with HVI, including the proceeds of the 2012 event, the I.O. Silver Foundation has donated more than $1,000,000 toward clinical, educational, and research initiatives at Penn State Hershey. (more…)

October 10, 2012 at 10:34 am Leave a comment

Cardiovascular risks related to high dietary salt

Graphic of salt pouring on top of a person's headAccording to the American Heart Association (AHA), cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States in both men and women. Hypertension or high blood pressure, the most prevalent form of the disease, affects at least 34 percent of US adults and an estimated 18-20 percent of adolescents. Because hypertension plays a key role in the development of life-threatening heart disease, stroke, and other serious illnesses, biomedical researchers remain focused on understanding its causes, prevention, and treatment. Although many blood pressure-lowering medications are available, few patients with hypertension have well-controlled blood pressure. One reason for this is that a large component of blood pressure control is neurally mediated, and according to Sean Stocker, Ph.D., associate professor of cellular and molecular physiology at the College of Medicine.

“The key neural pathways and mechanisms that allow our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) to tightly regulate blood pressure are still not well defined,” Stocker said. A major factor in the brain’s control of blood pressure is dietary sodium intake. Understanding how the brain responds to plasma sodium levels is likely to be particularly important, because excess dietary salt intake is expected to pose a public health epidemic of hypertension in the coming years. The mechanism by which the brain senses and reacts to plasma sodium concentration is largely unknown, and how to control the process is a major therapeutic challenge for managing hypertension. (more…)

August 22, 2012 at 10:45 am Leave a comment

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