Get Going in Grand Rapids! Get Kicking in Kalamazoo! Wake Up, West Michigan!

Having seasons like we do, it’s amazing we don’t just hibernate through the winter like bears and squirrels. West Michigan residents tend to coop themselves up for the winter,  which is terrible for your heart health. Physicians should prescribe Total Gyms it’s so important for your heart to stay active.

But now,West Michigan-ites, it’s time to get moving! Winter is over, and folks from Grand Rapids to South Haven are busting outdoors for a little heart-happy workout.  Great cardio health doesn’t have to be in front of the workout DVD 30 minutes a day, there are a ton of FUN and effective ways to keep your ticker healthy this summer, without wiping yourself out.

Here are a few simple, fun ways to get that blood pumping this summer. Your physician (and heart) will thank you:

  • If you must drive, park your car in the farthest space from the doors. Picking up mulch? Building a fence? Going to the mall to pick up a new pair of those cute plaid shorts everyone is wearing? Parking farther away from the doors isn’t going to wear you out, but gets your legs moving more than that princess spot right up front. Walking is one of the best cardio big-muscle workouts there is, and it’s easy to add steps to almost everything that you do. You’ll get your heart-pumping 30 minutes in before you know it!
  • Swimming is another excellent cardio choice, and frankly the only cure for those 90 degree days we’re so prone to once in a while. Living in West Michigan, we’re an easy trek to any one of a million great beaches from Muskegon State Park to our own Packard Park here in South Haven. Millennium Park has a huge lake with a beach front if you’re staying in Grand Rapids, and I bet there are more public pools within bike riding distance than you think there are. Swimming is also great because it takes pressure off of your joints, and gets your heart pumping without overheating your body. And did we mention it was REALLY fun?
  • Walk to places that are in walking distance. Next time you’re returning a movie to Red Box, visiting a friend, or taking the kids for an ice cream cone, walk there instead of driving. It’s probably closer than you think, and you’ll be able to spend a little one-on-one time with whoever walks with you. Walking is a great, low-impact activity that gets your heart pumping, and melts away stress from the day. Golfing 9 holes at Thornapple Creek, Hawks Head Links, or Thousand Oaks? Opt for the club dolly instead of the cart. Walking a golf course will give you a great idea of the layout, and workout at the same time.
  • Have a cookout! There are so many excellent fresh foods available here in West Michigan this summer, and nothing is better for your heart than fresh fruits and vegetables. Stock up your bbq table with fresh watermelon, strawberries, and blueberries (which are delicious little antioxidant bombs of heart goodness), and sweet corn and vidalia onions  slices are awesome on the grill. One super easy delicious addition to any cookout is to slice a sweet potato the short way, brush lightly with olive oil, salt, and pepper and throw them on the grill next to the brats. They taste amazing (especially with spicy turkey sausages) and are a heart-smart alternative to chips or fatty potato salad.
  • Run through the sprinkler a few times like you did when you were a kid. We’re serious. A few passes isn’t going to get you soaked, the cool hose water is completely refreshing, and we guarantee you’ve never felt so alive. Next time you’re all sweaty from mowing the lawn, or headed home from a blistering day on the job, give it a try. It will get your feet moving, and make you feel like a new person.
  • Unless you’re already suffering from a heart condition, a little adrenaline can be good for you. Try the Juggler at the Allegan County Fair or a roller coaster at Michigan Adventure for a heart-pumping oxygen rush. Just be careful, there is a difference between a little epinephrine rush and full-on anxiety (which causes unnecessary stress), so if speed or heights scare you or carnival rides freak you out, just hang out for the sunshine and a nice walk. There is a lot to enjoy about a fair or amusement park besides the rides. Stay away from those elephant ears!

Hopefully that will get you on your way to a fun, heart-happy summer. Make an appointment with Dr. Bastow today for a complete heart checkup and plenty of other heart-friendly fun this summer, here at Cardiology II PC.


It wasn’t very long ago at all that we couldn’t even test for heart disease. Heart attacks and cardiac arrest seemed to happen at random, and even the healthiest of people seemed to fall victim to unexpected heart failure, irreparable illness, and even death. Today, we have made leaps and bounds in the field of cardiological testing and can spot all kinds of heart conditions early on, making them easier to anticipate, monitor, treat, and prevent.

The most comprehensive tool out there for being able to look at the heart’s “big picture” is the MUGA (MUltiple Gated Acquisition) scan. It is a form of nuclear imaging that can draw a complete picture of your working heart from the inside, and allows for total and accurate analysis of heart function. The MUGA scan works by attaching radioactive isotopes to red blood cells and video taping them as they circulate through different valves of the heart. Since red blood cells fill every chamber of the heart, images rendered can pinpoint irregularities and measure damage more accurately than any other test. It can also accurately assess levels of blood pumping through different valves, rendering a complete analysis of the overall health of your heart.

Here are five reasons why you should get a MUGA scan:

1) MUGA scan is the most accurate measurement of your Left Ventricular Ejection Fracture (LVEF). This is the amount of blood being pumped through  your left ventricle. For example, if your heart is pumping 50% of its blood volume with every beat, than your LVEF is 5 (a normal measurement). Being able to monitor your LVEF can pinpoint many heart conditions very early on, allowing for highly accurate diagnosis, quick treatment, and prevention of complications.

2) MUGA scans are far more accurate than other tests. Because of the accuracy with which we can trace the radioactive blood cells as they travel through the heart, the MUGA scan is highly reproducible, meaning it can be performed over and over again and yield the same results. Echocardiograms and other LVEF tests can produce highly variable results, requiring more averaging and less accuracy.

3) Heart attacks are not random. Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States, and generally exhibits little to no noticeable symptoms until the time of the attack. The MUGA scan allows us to be able to accurately measure levels of blood being pumped through separate ventricles, making spotting blockages and clogs easier than ever before.The levels of plaque that will show up on the scan are much lower than echocardiogram tests, allowing conditions to be spotted earlier, at more predictive and preventable stages.

4) 1-3 hrs is all it takes to predict and prevent heart conditions. The MUGA scan is a radiation test, so it can be completed with little preparation (fasting for 4-6 hours before hand) and minimal (mostly no) after effects. An ounce of prevention goes a long way, especially with your heart, and one simple, painless, and relatively quick test now can prevent major complications down the road.

5) Ventricular arrhythmia (irregular heart beats), and cardiomyopathy (low LVEF caused by weak heartbeats) are both common conditions, and both can cause serious complications including brain damage, sudden cardiac arrest, and even death. The only symptom of these conditions is fatigue, and most attacks can come at seemingly random times. Both conditions cause your heart to beat irregularly, which can cause an insufficient amount of blood to be delivered to the brain. Results are sudden cardiac arrest, which can cause brain damage, and even death. These conditions are more common than you’d think. The good news is, complications from either of these conditions can be 100% prevented with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (IVD). These tiny units are surgically implanted onto the heart, and can deliver a small electrical shock that re-patterns heart beats, preventing blood shortages and heart failure. How do you know if you need an IVD? A MUGA scan easily and accurately assesses your heart beat for premature signs so preventative measures can be taken.

Please make an appointment today for a consultation. Dr. Bastow is an experienced cardiologist with a world-class team of professionals, who’s only goal is to keep you healthy.