Watch: How is an Olympian’s heart different? A UK HealthCare doctor explains

When you exercise, your heart “remodels” to accommodate the body’s increased demand for more oxygen-rich blood to feed those muscles.

Does this remodeling affect Olympic athletes differently?

Not exactly, says Dr. Vincent Sorrell of the University of Kentucky Gill Heart & Vascular Institute.

“Anyone who exercises regularly will likely have some remodeling to their heart, which a layperson can see reflected in their resting heart rate,” Sorrell said. “But serious amateur and professional athletes – with Olympians being a prime example – have more extensive remodeling.”

Curiously, exercise-induced changes to the heart vary according to the type of exercise. In this video, Dr. Sorrell explains what happens to the hearts of specific Olympians as they practice their sport.

Also: We take you on the journey with UK athletes in the Olympics and those who support them at Follow along on all of our social media channels by looking for #olympiCats.

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Dr. Mary Lloyd Ireland, now a sports medicine physician at UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine, was an Olympic team doctor in 1992 at the Summer Games in Barcelona.

Dr. Kimberly Kaiser of UK Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine and UK Family & Community Medicine, answers some frequently asked questions about nutrition and athletic performance.

UK’s DanceBlue 2018 raises $1.8 million for the fight against pediatric cancer

During DanceBlue 2018 from 8 p.m. Saturday through 8 p.m. Sunday, more than 900 students helped raise $1,804,068.77 to fight pediatric cancer.

DanceBlue supports the DanceBlue Kentucky Children’s Hospital Hematology/Oncology Clinic.

“I could not be more proud to be a student at a university that empowers students to be a part of something greater than themselves,” said Madison Conroy, the DanceBlue chair. “Over the years, the students have grasped on to the idea of DanceBlue and worked so hard toward the greater mission of ending pediatric cancer. While it will be bittersweet to see DanceBlue 2018 come to a close, it is exciting to know that there are so many passionate students who will continue to grow DanceBlue in the years to come!”

DanceBlue is UK’s largest student-run philanthropy — a yearlong fundraising effort involving thousands of UK students, culminating in a 24-hour no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon. All of the money raised by DanceBlue goes to the Golden Matrix Fund and cancer research.

Since the organization’s launch in 2006, DanceBlue has raised more than $13.4 million, providing financial and emotional support for children and families living with childhood cancer.

DanceBlue students volunteer about 1,000 hours in the clinic each year. Every week, dozens of students produce smiles and laughter among patients and families. Students give their time because of that one phrase that embodies the DanceBlue mission: “For The Kids.”

The DanceBlue Kentucky Children’s Hospital Hematology/Oncology Clinic opened its new facility in 2017 after a complete renovation funded solely by DanceBlue. Visit this page for more information about DanceBlue or to support its efforts. Also, connect with DanceBlue on Facebook and Twitter.

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UK Precision Medicine Clinic

Bringing precision medicine to our patients with cancer

Jill Kolesar, PharmD

Written by Jill Kolesar, PharmD, a professor in the UK College of Pharmacy, co-director of the UK Markey Cancer Center Molecular Tumor Board and director of Markey’s Precision Medicine Clinic.

Historically, cancer treatment has been offered through one-size-fits-all therapies based on the average person.

But that is changing as we learn more about cancer and why it occurs. Scientists and doctors – including those at the Markey Cancer Center and UK HealthCare – are increasingly using an exciting new treatment option called precision medicine.

Precision medicine a kind of treatment that takes into account each patient’s individual genetics, environment and lifestyle to find a tailored therapy that works for their specific cancer.

Recently, we launched our very own Precision Medicine Clinic at UK, the first of its kind in Kentucky. Our team at the Precision Medicine Clinic specializes in finding personalized treatment options that will be most effective for our patients.

What is the Precision Medicine Clinic?

Because precision medicine is a relatively new approach to treating cancer, many of the therapies are still being studied in early-phase clinical trials.

The Precision Medicine Clinic is a dedicated treatment center for patients with cancer who are enrolled in or eligible for early-phase precision medicine clinical trials. The clinic provides a space for patients to receive clinical trial treatments, with staff highly experienced in precision medicine and clinical trials.

What does the Precision Medicine Clinic offer?

As part of Markey, the only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center in Kentucky, the clinic provides access to early-phase precision medicine clinical trials. Through these trials, we offer many cancer treatment services, including:

  • Infusion therapy, treatment delivered intravenously (IV).
  • Targeted therapy, treatment that works based on a patient’s genetics.
  • Immunotherapy, treatment that works with a patient’s immune system.
  • Oral cancer therapies, treatment patients can take by mouth at home, making treatment more convenient and accessible.

The clinic is also connected with Markey’s Molecular Tumor Board. This multidisciplinary team of scientists and clinicians meets regularly to discuss specific cases and use the members’ shared expertise to find treatment options for patients with cancer.

Who works in the Precision Medicine Clinic?

Our clinic is fully staffed with experts in the field of precision medicine and clinical trials:

  • Precision medicine nurses specialize in administering infusion, or IV, treatments to patients, ensure patients are comfortable, and address any unexpected complications during the infusion.
  • Clinical research nurses work with patients to find the best-fit clinical trial for their specific cancer and health conditions.
  • Precision medicine pharmacists are experts in ensuring investigational and standard-of-care therapies fit with each patient’s other medications and conditions, preventing adverse effects, and in educating patients on how to take their medications.
  • Clinical service technicians work with patients, physicians and pharmacists to ensure all treatments run smoothly and effectively.
  • Medical oncologists and hematologists from a variety of specialties provide their expertise for each patient and their individualized treatment.

How can you contact the Precision Medicine Clinic?

If you or someone you know could benefit from the Precision Medicine Clinic, please contact us at 859-323-7750.

Watch a video interview with Dr. Kolesar, where she tells us more about the Precision Medicine Clinic and how cancer patients can benefit from its services.

Next steps:

  • Get to know Dr. Kolesar and find out why she is so passionate about cancer research.
  • Markey is Kentucky’s only NCI-designated cancer center, providing world-class cancer care right here in the Commonwealth. Learn more about why patients choose Markey for their cancer treatment.
healthy heart

10 things you can do for your heart

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, and it’s the second-leading cause of death in Kentucky. Here are 10 things you can do to keep your heart healthy.

1. Know your numbers: Your blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and body weight reveal a lot about how likely you are to develop heart problems. This guide shows the basics of what your numbers mean. Here are two ways to get them:

  • Your doctor can record them at your next checkup.
  • Watch for free health screenings (pharmacies – including those at department stores and grocery stores – as well as hospitals sometimes offer these; googling “free health screening” followed by your city is a good place to start).

2. Learn your family history: If a close relative has had heart trouble, you are more likely to have it. Find out whether your brothers, sisters, parents or grandparents have had heart disease and how old they were when they developed it, and share that information with your doctor.

3. Exercise: A good goal to start with is 30 minutes a day, five days a week, of moderate intensity aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, ballroom dancing, bicycling, doubles tennis or water aerobics. You can get more benefits if you add muscle-strengthening activity twice a week through weightlifting or calisthenics (pushups, pullups and situps, for example).

4. Eat well: A diet low in saturated fats (from animal products – meat and dairy) and trans fats (found in fried foods and baked goods) helps reduce the risk of high LDL blood cholesterol. The DASH diet is easy to follow and good for you.

5. Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke: Check out these 11 strategies.

6. Get enough sleep: Those who don’t sleep enough are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease. How much sleep do you need? This is a good place to find answers. Also, UK HealthCare’s Dr. Zoran Danov offers tips for how to sleep better.

7. Reduce stress: Slowing down, staying organized, exercising and sleeping well can all help. Dr. John A. Patterson recommends mindful breathing.

8. Control high blood pressure: High blood pressure weakens the arteries to the heart. Dr. Khaled Ziada, an interventional cardiologist at the UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute, explains how to manage it.

9. Reduce belly fat: Abdominal fat has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease (it’s not just how much weight you’re carrying but where you carry it, studies have concluded).

10. Take it easy on the alcohol: An average of one to two drinks per day for men and one per day for women is fine, but more than that can lead to higher fat levels in the blood as well as obesity. Binge drinking can damage the heart muscle.

Next steps:

  • The UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute is at the forefront of the battle against heart disease in Kentucky. Learn more about what we’re doing to treat and prevent cardiovascular disease.
  • Heart health also affects your risk for stroke. At UK HealthCare, we’re on a mission to change stroke care forever. Learn more about our Comprehensive Stroke Center.
thrombectomy Dr. Justin Fraser

Watch: UK stroke expert explains how thrombectomy is saving lives

When an ischemic stroke occurs, a blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain, causing brain cells to die and potentially affecting areas of the brain that control things like memory or muscle control.

One way to treat stroke is by performing a thrombectomy. It’s an advanced procedure that’s revolutionizing stroke care because of its ability to not only successfully treat severe strokes, but also help patients achieve better outcomes after a stroke occurs.

And it’s performed right here at the UK Comprehensive Stroke Center.

How thrombectomy works

During a thrombectomy, a doctor creates an incision near the patient’s groin and then threads a catheter (a small, hollow tube) through the patient’s arteries, into the brain.

Then, a wire-mesh device pushed through the catheter can grab and remove the clot, allowing blood flow to return.

“I like to say it’s like glorified plumbing, so to speak,” said Dr. Justin Fraser, surgical director of the UK Comprehensive Stroke Center. “So just like you could snake the plumbing in your house when it gets clogged up, it’s like a similar procedure in the brain.”

Check out our video interview with Dr. Fraser, where he tells us more about how thrombectomy has changed the way stroke is treated and what experts at the UK Comprehensive Stroke Center are doing to make the procedure even better. 

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Listen: UK Sports Medicine Research Institute helps athletes of all kinds

The UK Sports Medicine Research Institute (SMRI) brings together experts from across seven colleges on campus in addition to personnel from UK HealthCare to help athletes of all skill levels and the tactical athletes of the U.S. military improve performance and reduce injury.

Consider the physical demands on an Olympic biathlete, an event that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. It’s difficult to aim with a steady hand if your heart is pounding from a vigorous cardiovascular workout.

The superior biathlete is usually the one with the best “CV recovery” – that is, the amount of time it takes to slow the heart rate down after physical exertion. According to Nicholas Heebner, associate director for research at the UK SMRI, the same is true of military athletes.

“These two disciplines use the same science” to maximize performance, Heebner said. The work of the SMRI, which encompasses sophisticated analysis of biomechanical motion, anaerobic power, metabolic capacity and more, can help Special Ops forces, Olympic athletes and weekend warriors perform better and with fewer injuries.

In this episode of the Behind the Blue, we chat with Heebner and the SMRI’s Medical Director Dr. Scott Black about the similarities between Olympic athletes and the tactical athletes of the U.S. military and how the SMRI is doing research that benefits both. Listen below:

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Bradley Wilson DanceBlue

Watch: UK student, cancer survivor inspiring others through DanceBlue

UK junior Bradley Wilson has experienced the impact of DanceBlue firsthand – as a two-time pediatric cancer survivor. Now he’s leading the fight against cancer as part of DanceBlue’s student leadership.

DanceBlue is a year-long fundraising and volunteer effort that supports cancer research at the UK Markey Cancer Center, the families of children receiving treatment for pediatric cancer at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital DanceBlue Hematology/Oncology Clinic and the Golden Martix Fund. DanceBlue culminates in a 24-hour no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon held every year on the UK campus.

Most UK students learn about DanceBlue through friends on campus, sessions during orientation or by participating in one of the dozens of mini-marathons hosted by elementary, middle and high schools across the Commonwealth. For Wilson, however, his knowledge of DanceBlue comes from personal experience.

Wilson is a childhood cancer survivor and received treatment at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital DanceBlue Hematology/Oncology Clinic for the last time just a few years ago.

“Being a patient, it was really awesome having DanceBlue people around,” Wilson said. “Having friends at the clinic to just hang out and pass the time was a really big encouragement to me.”

From patient to supporter

Upon his arrival on campus, Wilson knew DanceBlue would be a big part of his campus experience. He has been involved with DanceBlue since his freshman year – dancing and serving on committee. This year, he’s taken on a bigger leadership role – the Family Relations chair.

As the DanceBlue Family Relations chair, he and his coordinators work with the clinic staff to make sure children in treatment enjoy their childhood despite their diagnosis. They are the face of DanceBlue in the clinic – the friends there to hang out with and encourage patients.

“To have that perspective on what it’s like to be a patient and to experience what they’re experiencing, but then also see how I can give and serve and try to make their lives a little bit easier is a unique position to be in,” he said.

Wilson, a chemical engineering major from Simpsonville, Ky., enjoyed seeing the Family Relations Committee volunteering while he was receiving treatment during his freshman year. Seeing college students come and support the patients receiving treatment made him want to participate in DanceBlue as soon as he could.

“I’m not sure that they knew that the support system they provide is vital to the journey to recovery. Empathy is a big part of it. There’s a certain level of understanding that comes with surviving cancer,” Wilson said. “Being able to say I’ve been in a similar situation, I’ve been through very similar things and I can understand to some extent what you’re experiencing, and that it’s okay to not be okay.”

‘For the kids’

The Family Relations team and other DanceBlue leadership volunteer their time in the clinic playing games, talking with families and engaging in the occasional Nerf gun war. The students do anything they can to make the children and families more comfortable while they’re receiving treatment.

“There’s so much that I love about DanceBlue,” Wilson said. “From being at the marathon seeing the talent show when the kids get on stage and perform to being in the clinic and getting to spend time with families and play games and goof off, it’s a lot of fun.”

The 2018 DanceBlue dance marathon begins at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, and ends at 8 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18, at Memorial Coliseum on UK’s campus. Nearly 900 dancers will participate in DanceBlue 2018. The event is free and open to the public for the duration of the event. Spectators are welcome.

“One of the biggest things that we like to point out is that DanceBlue isn’t something that’s passed down from administration,” Wilson said. “DanceBlue grew from the student body, and that shows a lot about the people on this campus. For many people I’ve talked to that are on DanceBlue committee now, it was a part of the reason that they came to UK.”

DanceBlue unites students from all backgrounds, organizations and experiences for one common cause: the kids.

“Given the opportunity, I feel like I really have to give back,” Wilson said. “To me, I don’t see any other option.”

Watch the video below to see Wilson discuss his own cancer diagnosis and how that allows him to support and inspire patients and families going through a similar experience.

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MWS Distinguished Researcher Kathleen O’Connor

Philanthropy program empowers women-led cancer research at UK

“Stronger together” is a motto that inspires many aspects of Lois Reynolds’ life.

From her approach to her family and friendships to her involvement with the UK Markey Cancer Foundation as a board member, she has long understood the impact that can be made when a group of people rally around a mission.

Reynolds’ first introduction to cancer came when she was 24, when her uncle was diagnosed with melanoma despite not showing any of the disease’s typical symptoms. Within six months of the diagnosis, he was gone. Since then, Reynolds has lost other close friends and family members to cancer, including her own mother. She has even faced her own recurring battle with skin cancer.

Reynolds knows that cancer affects nearly everyone in some way, and her experience with it has fueled her desire to make a real difference in the fight against the disease.

She decided she wanted to make a meaningful and lasting contribution to the UK Markey Cancer Foundation in a way that also created passionate ambassadors for the research and clinical work being done at the UK Markey Cancer Center.

With that goal in mind, Markey Women Strong was formed in 2017.

Hope through research

Reynolds first discussed the idea for Markey Women Strong, or MWS, with UK Markey Cancer Foundation President and CEO Michael Delzotti.

“We talked about the many emotions, including anger, grief and frustration, that surround a cancer diagnosis, regardless of whether it is oneself or a family member, and about the empowerment that comes with knowing you are taking an active part in something bigger than yourself,” Delzotti said. “I was reminded of something lauded Markey hematology and oncology specialist Dr. Ed Romond once said: ‘The best hope a cancer patient has is good research.’”

To encourage and promote such cancer research, each member of MWS commits to making an annual gift of $1,000. Together, the group listens to presentations by female researchers carrying out research at Markey. The group then votes to select which research projects to fund with the pooled contributions.

“Women in philanthropy supporting the work of female researchers was most appealing to our core group when starting MWS,” Reynolds said.

In its inaugural year, the members of MWS awarded two $50,000 Distinguished Research grants to Kathleen O’Connor, PhD, for her research on triplenegative breast cancer, and to Rina Plattner, PhD, whose research focuses on melanoma metastasis and therapeutic resistance.

“We had a great first year for Markey Women Strong, and I am very proud of that, but my goals for this project are much bigger,” Reynolds said. “I would like for 100 of my friends to donate $1,000 each, then I would like them to get 100 of their friends to donate $1,000 each and watch it continue to multiply. Each of us knows how uniquely cancer has affected us, and I want them to be an active participant in ensuring their donation makes a difference.”

Creating more stories of survivorship

Throughout the year, the UK Markey Cancer Foundation, which manages the MWS fund, hosted a lecture series for MWS members featuring updates and scientific advancements that are being made as a result of the group’s funding. Each salonstyle event also features a testimonial from a cancer survivor.

Reynolds said the presentations are an emotional reminder of the positive work the group is supporting in the fight against cancer.

“At our first MWS lecture, 24-year-old Reilly Butler gave us a very authentic and moving account of her journey through brain cancer diagnosis and treatment,” Reynolds said. “Afterward, Dr. John D’Orazio explained that we are funding research that will create more stories of hope and survivorship like Reilly’s. It is profoundly empowering to know we are playing an active role in the process and to truly understand the difference we are making with our contributions.”

To learn more about Markey Women Strong or to become a member, visit its website or contact Amy Morgan at

Next steps:

  • Learn more about the Markey Cancer Foundation, which supports cancer research in Kentucky through direct support of the Markey Cancer Center.
  • Markey is Kentucky’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, providing world-class cancer care right here in the Commonwealth. Find out why patients choose Markey for their cancer treatment.
Making the Rounds with Dr. Jonathan Kiev

Variety, challenge of surgery are why Jonathan Kiev loves his job

Making the RoundsFor our latest installment of Making the Rounds, we chatted with Dr. Jonathan Kiev, a cardiothoracic surgeon at UK HealthCare. Dr. Kiev treats a wide variety of conditions, including lung cancer, hiatal hernias and gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)w.

What kinds of patients do you see?

In Kentucky, we see a lot of patients with cancer – lung cancer and esophageal cancer especially. For these patients, we focus on early intervention, early diagnosis, early detection and early treatment so that the disease doesn’t take their life.

We also treat benign esophageal disease, acid reflux disease, hiatal hernias and benign lung disease. We see a lot coal miners and people who have illnesses that are related to occupational hazards whom we can help. We really cover the full gamut of patients: from those in the intensive care unit who need a consult, to people who are walking around but have something called hyperhidrosis or sweaty palms, which can be a disabling disease.

Why did you choose surgery as a specialty?

Surgery kind of chose me. I originally wanted to be a forensic pathologist. But then I went to medical school and I got into surgery and I said, “This is great!”

I found myself in a department that treats a wide breadth of things, and that just makes your day so much more fascinating. At the end of the day, even though you’re physically exhausted, your mind is still going. That to me is a fulfilling day.

What do you enjoy most about cardiothoracic surgery?

The fascinating thing is that it’s never the same. There’s nothing mundane, and something’s new every day. In Kentucky particularly, there’s a lot of disease that I can help treat and make huge impacts into people’s lives. That’s exciting to me.

The variability during the course of the week – being on call, talking about organ transplant, talking about lung cancer – it’s fascinating to me. Plus, being here at UK HealthCare, we work with so many different specialties, and my day can touch and be involved with these other experts. There’s always something to learn, and that’s the big thing about medicine: It’s always moving, and that kind of fits my personality.

In your role, you also train the next generation of surgeons and doctors. Tell us about that.

Being in academic medicine, I’m trying to be a role model for the guys behind me, the residents. I treat them as colleagues and I try to motivate them, and I think that’s what this environment encourages.

I had been in academics before and I’ve also been in private practice. Private practice was fun, but it didn’t involve teaching as much. Here, there’s an opportunity to really give these folks, the young folks, the gift that I think I have, which is a committed passion for the work we do.

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UK symposium spotlights research on women’s heart health

In a society that values gender equality, it’s important to remember that there are differences between the sexes that directly affect health. Women’s cardiovascular health, in particular, is in critical need of further study.

For the past four years, two junior faculty at the University of Kentucky have hosted a symposium where scientists from UK and universities across the country present scientific advances in women’s heart health and explore translational cardiovascular research areas.

The fourth annual Healthy Hearts for Women Symposium on Feb. 2 was the brainchild of Analia Loria and Frédérique Yiannikouris in the UK College of Medicine’s pharmacology and nutritional sciences department.

“The National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association are funding research, recognizing the importance of understanding the cardiovascular differences between men and women and the impact of those differences in treatment, so we wanted to replicate this at the University of Kentucky by bringing to the table ongoing research and therapies in development,” Loria said.

“It’s very important to understand how gender affects the underlying mechanisms as part of the process to find better and more adapted treatment, which should make a huge difference in terms of human health outcomes,” Yiannikouris said.

The day’s presenters were Dr. Virginia Miller of the Mayo Clinic; Dr. Frank Mauvais-Jarvis of the Tulane University School of Medicine; Dr. Jill Barnes of the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Dr. Donna Arnett, dean of the UK College of Public Health.

“Cardiovascular disease and stroke cause one in three deaths among women each year, killing one U.S. woman every 80 seconds. Women are less likely to survive a cardiac event than men,” Arnett said. “It’s critical that we begin to consider gender as a biological variable in heart disease, and this symposium is a great way to spur that kind of thinking in study design.”

The symposium was sponsored by the Department of Pharmacology & Nutritional Sciences in the College of Medicine; the Gill Heart Institute; Saha Cardiovascular Research Center; Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center; and the Center for Clinical and Translational Science.

Watch the video below for highlights from this year’s symposium.

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