Posts Tagged ‘Cardiac Care’

The Guardian Angels

September 4, 2009

They were scared to death.

The nurses of the new heart surgery team at Dayton, Ohio’s Good Samaritan Hospital had practiced, studied, and thought they were ready. But still they doubted – they were walking into uncertain waters, and one mistake could cost a a child her life.

So after a sleepless night, most of them stopped by the hospital chapel before reporting to duty. And on Wednesday morning, July 16, 1959, they all assisted in Dayton’s first open heart surgery – a seven hour operation to repair a hole in a 9 year old girl’s heart.

The operation required the services of six doctors, six nurses, and three technicians. The technicians were probably in charge of the new heart-lung machine. The machine was funded, in part, through an unusual source: the proceeds from “High Fever Follies”, a talent show!

The operation was a success, and that original nursing team recently attended a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of that first operation. Age has caught up with everyone – the young patient passed away in the year 2000 – and Good Samaritan has changed. The hospital just opened a $31 million dollar facility dedicated to heart care. A heart attack victim being brought into the hospital can be in the Catherization lab having a life saving angioplasty within 90 minutes of arrival.

And Guardian Angels still patrol the halls of “Good Sam” – the decendants of that original group who stopped by the chapel that July morning fifty years ago.

Are you lost?

July 14, 2009

There’s a new report just published in the journal Circulation that confirms something that’s been known for a while: Congenital Heart Defect (CHD) Survivors are often lost to follow-up care. This report specifically studied CHD patients born in Quebec in 1983, a total of 643 people. The findings state that CHDers begin to fall away from Cardiac Care as early as the age of 6, and by the time they reach adulthood, 61% of all Heart Warriors aren’t seeing a Cardiologist. Those of us classified as having a severe CHD do better; by the age of eighteen 21% of us had stopped seeing a heart doctor.

While these patients had not followed through on their Cardiac Care, 93% of them continued to see a doctor for other needs. It is not known if they had been told that their heart problems had been “fixed” (a common misconception) or they were just avoiding the issue.

The Adult Congenital Heart Association‘s (ACHA) “Don’t Get Lost” program is our effort to make sure that Adults with heart defects get the care they need. Even though for many years our doctors told us we were “fixed” and sent us on our merry way, research is proving that is not true. All hearts undergo changes as they grow older, but because of our defects, some of the changes are unique to CHD Survivors. We’ll need to stay in contact with Congenital Cardiologists all of our lives.

It’s not just us

June 22, 2009

Here’s an article from allAfrica.com about a team from Saudi Arabia going to Nigeria to evaluate children with Congenital Heart Defects (CHDs) in need of surgery. When they can’t perform the operation in Nigeria, the child becomes a candidate to be sent to Saudi Arabia for the operation. The person being interviewed states the need for a heart disease center in every nation and estimates that it takes ten to fifteen years to develop an efficient heart facility.

The rate of CHD births is pretty constant worldwide – 8 out of every 1000. Keep these developing countries and the sick people who live there in your thoughts.

Fix the Problem!

November 4, 2008

UPDATE, 6:12 AM Eastern Time: Katie is on my mind again… Preliminary reports suggest that the surgery may not have helped her that much, if at all. Get over to her website ASAP and encourage her parents.

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Great news from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA)… The NIH’s Partners in Research program will fund the ACHA’s first Adult Congenital Heart Defect research study! Titled the “Health Education and Access Research Trial in Adult Congenital Heart Disease”, (HEART-ACHD for short) the study will attempt to learn why those of us with Congenital Heart Defects often “fall through the cracks” after childhood and no longer receive good cardiac care.

This is a two year study, and ten of the largest Adult Congenital Cardiac Care centers are involved. Heart Moms and Heart Dads may not be very interested in this results of this study, but it is more important than you think. Imagine that moving from Pediatric Cardiology to Adult Congenital Cardiac Care is like crossing a river…. but the bridge has a huge hole in the middle of it. Some of us, by luck or design, are able to walk around the edge of the hole without falling in and continue with good heart care. Others stumble, and fall in the river. If we’re lucky, we catch something as we fall and are able to pull ourselves back onto the bridge, while others aren’t so fortunate.

Lifelong cardiac care is so important, especially to someone with a Congenital Heart Defect. As you age, not only do you have the problems you were born with, but also the effects of age began to set in. We’re susceptible to Cholesterol problems and clogged arteries, just as everyone else is – but with our bad hearts, the problem may manifest itself in a different form. So the transition from our “kiddie doctor” to an Adult Physician is critical, and right now there are too many ways to get lost in the shuffle… fall through the hole in the bridge, so to speak. Hopefully this study will give a “repair crew” something to work with as they repair the bridge and make the road to lifelong medical care safe to travel!