UofL Physicians WEEKLY NEWS TIP SHEET FEB. 13 Beer with a Scientist, Valentine's Day tips on heart health and showing love to children, Parkinson's Symposium


    Health-care providers and researchers with the University of Louisville are available to discuss any of the following health topics this week. Click on the headline or scroll down for more information:


    Potentially life-threatening toxins found in many households can seriously harm your furry best friend. Even things humans safely ingest every day can be fatal to pets.

    At the next Beer with a Scientist, Kate Baker, D.V.M., M.S., a veterinary clinical pathologist with Blue Pearl Specialty and Emergency Veterinary Hospital, will explain why some seemingly harmless substances actually are very dangerous for our animals. She also will address what veterinarians do to save pets when they ingest a toxin.

    “Many of us share our homes with pets, and sometimes, they eat things they shouldn’t. While some of these things may be harmless, others can seriously harm pets, even things people consume every day with no issues, from common medications such as Tylenol or ibuprofen, to foods we eat every day like onions and grapes,” Baker said.

    Baker’s talk will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at Holsopple Brewing, 8023 Catherine Lane, Louisville, 40222. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session.  Admission is free. Purchase of beer or other items is not required but is encouraged.

    Organizers encourage Beer with a Scientist patrons to drink responsibly.

    Upcoming Beer with a Scientist dates:  March 13, April 17, May 15.


    On Valentine’s Day, people may find themselves celebrating their relationships, or contemplating the lack of one. However, it’s not just love in the traditional sense that affects the heart, but also social bonds with friends and family.

    Lorrel Brown, M.D., a cardiologist with UofL Physicians – Cardiovascular Medicine, says there is definitely a correlation between heart attacks, heart failure and other cardiac problems and loneliness, depression and anxiety. While doctors know about the effects of diet, blood pressure and cholesterol on the heart, the medical community is becoming more aware of other components of heart health.

    “Emotions are definitely part of this new way of understanding the body. Ideal cardiovascular health is now going beyond things you’ve already heard,” Brown said. 

    There are a few small studies that show the benefits of traditional love on the heart, and “we do know that people react most positively to stress when they are in love,” Brown said. The hormone released in love is the powerful oxytocin, which also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. When oxytocin levels go up, blood pressure goes down, and the heart rate slows. Inflammatory markers also tend to go down. 

    “Broken Heart Syndrome” (clinically named stress-induced cardiomyopathy, also known as “takotsubo cardiomyopathy”) is the most clear and dramatic example of a negative effect of the emotions on heart health. The condition starts abruptly, with chest pain and often shortness of breath, usually triggered by an emotionally stressful event, Brown said, and it is not uncommon to see after spouses argue or one passes away. People experiencing Broken Heart Syndrome often think they are having a heart attack, which is caused by a blocked coronary artery. 

    “However, love can apply to other types of relationships as well,” Brown said. “Happiness and companionship are an important part of heart health. People with strong bonds, whether it’s a spouse, many friends, or a close family, tend to have healthier hearts. While we don’t understand yet the nuances, there’s certainly a significant connection.”


    Valentine’s Day this Thursday is a perfect reminder for parents and caregivers to focus on the best ways to show children love. These methods include positive discipline techniques, modeling kindness and caring behavior, and spending time together as a family.

    “Loved children grow up to be confident, secure adults,” said Heather Felton, M.D., medical director of the UofL Pediatrics-Sam Swope Kosair Charities Centre. “Love is a doing word, and these suggestions give parents, grandparents and anyone else who loves a child concrete ways to show that love.”

    Tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics on showing love for your child:

    • Use plenty of positive and encouraging words when talking with your child. Try to avoid using sarcasm or mockery and eliminate put-downs from the words you use as a parent. Children often don’t understand your purpose, and if they do, these messages can create negative ways of talking and connecting with each other. Be a good role model by treating others how you would like to be treated.
    • Make an extra effort to set a good example about how to connect and talk with other people at home and in public. Use phrases like “I’m sorry,” “please” and “thank you” and show respect for others through actions as well as words. Children learn a lot from observing and imitating their parent’s behavior.
    • Respond promptly and lovingly to your child’s physical and emotional needs. Be available to listen to your child when he or she wants to talk with you even if it’s not the best time for you. Ask your child, “How was your day?” and listen to the answer. If you see signs of anxiety or depression, ask your pediatrician for advice on how to help.
    • Make plans to spend time alone with your child doing something she enjoys on a regular basis. Encourage your child to be active by going on walks, bicycle riding or playing ball with you. Consider sending a Valentine’s Day card to your older child or teen. Think about making Valentine’s Day cards together with your preschool or younger school-age child.
    • Consider owning a pet if possible. Having a pet can help make some children, especially those with chronic illnesses and disabilities, feel better by increasing their physical activity, enhancing their overall positive feelings and offering another way to connect with someone they care about.
    • Help your child foster positive relationships with friends, siblings and members of the community. Consider inviting friends or neighbors to spend time drinking tea, having a meal, playing a game or helping others in need. Encourage your child to play sports or be involved in activities that show teamwork.
    • One of your most important gifts as a parent is to help your child develop self-esteem. Your child needs your steady support and help to discover his or her strengths. Children need you to believe in them as they learn to believe in themselves. Loving them, spending time with them, listening to them and celebrating lessons learned from mistakes and successes are all part of this process.
    • Say, “I love you” often to children of all ages.


    Individuals living with Parkinson’s disease, along with their families and caregivers, will have the opportunity to hear from a popular author and expert on the treatment of Parkinson’s, J. Eric Ahlskog, M.D., Ph.D., at the annual Bill Collins Symposium for Parkinson’s Disease. The annual symposium also will include care insights for patients, families and caregivers by the providers of UofL Physicians – Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders clinic.

    The half-day event is Saturday, March 2, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in the conference center of the Rudd Heart and Lung Building, 201 Abraham Flexner Way, next to Jewish Hospital.

    Ahlskog, professor of neurology at Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine, is the author of “The New Parkinson’s Disease Treatment Book,” a popular guide for people with Parkinson’s disease and their families. He will give the keynote talk for the symposium, “Debunking Ten Myths that May Sabotage Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease.”

    “We have organized this opportunity to allow patients and their families to meet one another and to learn about the best ways to manage the journey of Parkinson’s disease,” said Kathrin LaFaver, M.D., director of the UofL Physicians – Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders clinic and the Raymond Lee Lebby Chair in Parkinson’s Disease Research at the University of Louisville School of Medicine. “This year, they will have a unique chance to hear from Dr. Ahlskog, a renowned expert in Parkinson’s care. We also will introduce a caregivers’ support group, which will begin in March.”

    There is no charge for the symposium, but guests are asked to register by Feb. 25 by calling 502-582-7654 or via email to UofLPhysiciansMovement@ulp.org. Please include your name, the number of guests attending and a telephone number.


    Betty Coffman
    Betty Coffman is a Communications Coordinator focused on research and innovation at UofL. A UofL alumna and Louisville native, she served as a writer and editor for local and national publications and as an account services coordinator and copywriter for marketing and design firms prior to joining UofL’s Office of Communications and Marketing.