Is regular exercise safe for adults with congenital heart disease?

For many years, researchers have studied the effects of physical exercise on healthy people and those with cardiovascular disease. These studies have shown both groups benefit from being physically active by having a lower risk of heart attacks and living longer. The same benefits apply to adults with congenital heart disease (CHD).

Despite this evidence, a large number of adults with CHD are not physically active. Unfortunately for many of these adults, being inactive is a behavior learned from growing …Continue reading →

Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s Project ADAM celebrates 62 lives saved

Project ADAM logoOctober is National Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month. Project ADAM (Automated Defibrillators in Adam’s Memory) announced this month that 62 lives have been saved since the program was founded in 1999.

Project ADAM is a Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin program that helps schools throughout the nation prepare for and respond to cardiac emergencies. The program was …Continue reading →

Understanding pregnancy risks for women with congenital heart disease

A large number of women born with congenital heart disease (CHD) survive into adulthood because of advancements in surgical and medical treatments. Like many young adults, they have dreams of starting a family of their own. In general, pregnancy in women with a history of CHD is safe, but for some pregnancy may have significant risks to the mom and unborn baby.

One of the biggest concerns is the increased stress on the heart. Throughout pregnancy, …Continue reading →

Childhood cholesterol tests may lead to healthier adults

At a family gathering, my cousin approached me about her daughter’s recent visit to the pediatrician. She was a bit surprised her pediatrician was recommending her healthy, active 10-year-old have her cholesterol checked. This sparked a very interesting debate among my family members about health guidance recommendations, most arguments beginning with phrases like, “back in the day…” or “my kids never had to ….”

Fortunately, though, with time comes knowledge. We have come to recognize that some of the most common adult health problems — diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol — have their roots in childhood habits. And there also are those unfortunate …Continue reading →

Why we support Briggs & Al’s Run & Walk for future patients and families

Lucas

Lucas was born with Tetralogy of Fallot.

Raising money for Briggs & Al’s Run & Walk for Children’s Hospital is important to my family because it allows us to help other families benefit from the best medical care.

My name is Amy Randall. In April 2011, our son, Lucas, was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, a congenital heart defect. This diagnosis rocked our world. We soon learned congenital heart defects are the most common type of birth defect.

Days after Lucas’s birth, we met cardiologist Margaret Samyn, MD, in the Herma Heart Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. My husband and I were worried and in shock. Dr. Samyn …Continue reading →

For adults with congenital heart disease, Herma Heart Center is the best place for specialized care

Thanks to major advances in treating congenital heart disease, more than 90 percent of all children born with heart defects will survive to adulthood. This is a major success story in the medical world and has resulted in a new group of adults with congenital heart disease.

There are more than 1 million adults with congenital heart disease living in the U.S., of which about 15,000 live in Wisconsin. While many are doing well, these adults — regardless of their current condition — are at risk for unique health problems. For this …Continue reading →

Project ADAM honors school nurse for CPR and AED excellence

Karen Smith Award

Janette Strasburger, MD, cardiologist at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in the Fox Valley and Project ADAM advisor (left), presents Kathy Verstegen (right) with the Karen Smith Award.

Every year Project ADAM presents the Karen Smith Award to a person who demonstrates a high level of passion, innovation and excellence in serving as a role model for their school’s CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) program. The award is named after Karen Smith, a nursing services coordinator for the Pewaukee School District who was a pioneer and leader in school health and safety. This year, Project ADAM is honoring Kathy Verstegen, a school nurse with the Kimberly Area School District, as the 2012 recipient of the Karen Smith Award.

Kathy was selected for this honor because of her instrumental role in establishing an AED program in her district. Since 2001, when the AED program was launched in the Kimberly Area School District, 13 AEDs have been purchased. Kathy is responsible for AED …Continue reading →

How Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin saved my life

Due to the many wondrous talents and skills by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin physicians and nurses, I am alive today, and I will continue to live day after day after day. I have not been to every clinic and specialist (knock on wood, please), but I’ve been to quite a few over the last almost seventeen years of my life. From orthopedics to ENT to pulmonary functions to the Herma Heart Center, I’ve been down many hallways in the hospital.

What is especially promising and a relief to know is that my cardiologist, Dr. Earing, not only takes care of kids, but also has an adult clinic. This guarantees a knowledgeable …Continue reading →

A delicate balance for my beautiful daughter

Mo and Kate Jurgens

Mo and Kate Jurgens

My daughter Maureen (Mo) has Loeys-Dietz Syndrome, a connective tissue disease similar to Marfan syndrome. Loeys-Dietz syndrome is complicated. It affects the connective tissue that runs throughout the body—organs, muscles, and blood vessels. You name it. It’s present. When the tissue is weakened and defective, it is bound to wear down, be stretched to its limits and sometimes break. A major issue for Loeys-Dietz patients is they develop aneurysms throughout the body along with having many issues with the joints and other soft tissues.

Mo was born in 1995. Loeys-Dietz syndrome was not discovered until 2005. She has made many trips to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin since she was born, visiting a number of clinics including orthopedics, ENT and neurology. Her first visit to …Continue reading →

Never stop fighting: A Herma Heart Center Hero

Callan

Callan is the 2012 Herma Heart Center Hero.

At 1-month-old, Callan was diagnosed with pulmonary atresia, a congenital heart condition that makes it difficult for blood to flow to the lungs. His doctors in Madison gave him a dismal prognosis, but his parents refused to give up hope. They reached out to the Herma Heart Center team at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee as a last resort for treatment options that might save Callan’s life.

Within a few hours, Callan was rushed to the Herma Heart Center, where physicians recommended a series of three open-heart surgeries. The surgeries took place over several months, and Callan had his ups and …Continue reading →