CONTACT: TOM MOORE
8788 John Pappajohn Pavilion
Iowa City IA 52242
Release: Feb. 3, 2000
Valentine's Day declared 'Congenital Heart Defects
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack has designated
Feb. 14 as "A Day for Hearts: Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Day." The
declaration represents the culmination of an effort by Heart Friends, an Iowa-based
support group for families of children born with congenital heart defects.
Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common birth
defect, affecting about one child out of every 100 to 125 births. About 32,000
infants with CHD are born in the United States yearly. The American Heart
Association estimates that there are approximately one million Americans living
with CHD today.
Debra Johnson of Iowa City, and Lisa Abbott of Urbandale,
are members of Heart Friends and parents of children with CHD. They led the
effort to recognize Valentine's Day as "A Day for Hearts: Congenital Heart
Defects Awareness Day."
"We wanted to raise awareness that congenital heart defects
are not rare," Johnson said. "Because heart defects are not outwardly apparent,
children and their families living with CHD often have the sense that they
are alone in their struggles when, in fact, there are many, many families
facing the same challenges."
Early diagnosis and treatment is essential," Abbott added.
"Delays in recognizing CHD can lead to emergency surgery and even death."
Pediatricians check for signs of CHD, such as a heart
murmur, just after a baby is born. Other possible symptoms of congenital heart
defects include shortness of breath, a blue tinge to the skin, lack of appetite
"The good news is that there is hope for these children,"
said Larry Mahoney, M.D., UI professor of pediatrics and director of pediatric
cardiology in the Children's Hospital of Iowa. "Years ago, many kids with
heart defects did not live into adulthood. Now, we can often effectively treat
these children and they not only survive, but also thrive. They can go on
to lead healthy, relatively normal, productive lives."
Children with congenital heart defects may require multiple
surgeries. Medications may also be needed in certain cases. Children with
minor defects may only require close monitoring. Specialists have also developed
advanced techniques that make it possible to either perform fewer surgeries
or perform less invasive procedures.
"We believe that it is important to set aside a day of
remembrance and celebration of the great medical advances that help children
such as ours, and to honor the children and families who fight CHD on a daily
basis," Johnson said.
NOTE TO EDITORS: The following pediatric cardiologists
have agreed to discuss the care of children with congenital heart disease.
Gregorio Kazenelson, M.D., Waterloo, (319) 236-1607
Eyad Najdawi, M.D., Sioux City, (712) 255-8901
Susan MacLellan-Tobert, M.D., Waterloo, (319) 292-2710
Vickie Pyevich, M.D., Quad Cities, (319) 421-8380
Mark Zittergruen, M.D., Cedar Rapids, (319) 364-7101
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership
between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the
patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide