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Samir Becic



Q:  How does eating healthy and exercising impact my health?

A: With proper exercise and nutrition, you can control, manage or completely avoid 60-70% of illnesses such as: heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, colon cancer, breast cancer, stroke, heart attack, arthritis, etc.  Working out improves your confidence and self-esteem. It aids you in getting better sleep and giving you more energy and stamina throughout the day. Exercising slows down the aging process, improves sexual performance and restores libido. Last but not least, a healthy lifestyle builds and maintains healthy bones, muscles and joints while simultaneously increasing your immune system.

Q: How is my social life affecting my health?

A: Being healthy isn’t just a lack of illness, it’s a positive balance between body, mind and soul. In order for your social life to affect your life in a positive way, you need to create a healthy environment to socialize in. Socialize in a physically friendly a environment with walks in the park, meeting in an exercise facility for a class, biking, hiking, volleyball or tennis. Surround yourself with people who believe in healthy lifestyle and encourage your friends to join you. If you need to meet in a restaurant or a bar, choose healthy foods and low calorie drinks to stay on track.

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Health & Wellness

FranciscoHeart Device Improves Quality of Life

Texas Children’s Hospital is the nation’s first pediatric hospital to discharge a child while on an intracorporeal ventricular assist device (VAD), a feat previously accomplished only at adult institutions.

The patient, 16-year-old Francisco “Frank” De Santiago (pictured), who was implanted with a mechanical heart pump called the HeartMate II in May 09’, was discharged in Oct. 09’.

“This is a promising next step for the care of children with heart failure,” said Dr. David L. S. Morales, pediatric cardiovascular surgeon at Texas Children’s Heart Center, who performed the surgery on De Santiago. “The device, which is implanted into the chest cavity near the heart, stays inside the body rather than outside. It has helped the patient grow stronger by allowing him to eat well, exercise and enjoy life.”

According to hospital officials, Texas Children’s Hospital is the first pediatric hospital in the world to use the HeartMate II. Since April 2008, Morales, director of the Pediatric Mechanical Circulatory Support Program, has implanted five teen and pre-teen patients, including De Santiago, with VADs–four of whom have already received successful heart transplants and are enjoying their teen years in good health.

Until now, pediatric hospitals have kept patients in the hospital, if not the ICU, while awaiting transplant.

The Thoratec HeartMate II, about the size of 2 “D” cell batteries laid end-to-end, received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 2008. For these pediatric patients, it allowed them to live until a donor heart becomes available. There is also the possibility that this device may allow some of these children to recover their heart function.

De Santiago was flown to Texas Children's Hospital in May after having suffered a temporary stroke. He was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which his heart was enlarged to more than twice its normal size and could not pump blood efficiently.

“The device has improved his heart health and has allowed him to enjoy physical activity during the wait for a donor heart,” said Dr. Jeffrey Dreyer, medical director of cardiac transplantation at Texas Children’s.

photo credit: Paul Kuntz, Texas Children’s Hospital

Extending Treatment Window

Stroke researchers at the Methodist Neurological Institute in Houston are the only ones in Texas to offer a novel device that might extend the acute stroke treatment window from three hours to 24.

The miniature neuro-stimulator, about the size of a staple, is implanted near the sphenopalatine ganglion, a nerve located in the roof of the patient’s mouth, within 24 hours of the onset of acute ischemic stroke. The minimally invasive procedure takes less than 30 minutes and is performed under local anesthesia.

Pioneered by an Israeli-based company called Brainsgate, a donut-shaped transmitter is placed on the patient’s cheek near the implanted device. A steady stream of electrical stimulation is delivered for several hours a day over a five-day period. The neurostimulator is then removed from the patient’s mouth.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of long-term disability in the U.S. Ischemic stroke, or a blood clot in the brain, affects 750,000 Americans each year. The only current FDA-approved treatment is tPA, but the drug must be administered within three hours of symptom onset.