Driscoll’s McAllen clinic to host Heart Celebration

Event is to increase awareness of congenital heart defects

McALLEN – In a month that most people associate with Valentine’s Day, Driscoll Children’s Medical Plaza – McAllen will be hosting a Heart Celebration Feb. 17 for its young cardiology patients. Following Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week (see www.tchin.org/aware/), the celebration is an effort to bring awareness to the community about the many South Texas children born with heart defects. The Heart Celebration will include crafts, games and refreshments for the children and their families.

Each year, cardiologists at Driscoll and its South Texas clinics see about 7,200 children for heart-related issues. Last year, more than 3,000 children in the Rio Grande Valley were seen, said Judy Vest, RN, clinic director of Driscoll Children’s Heart Center. Some of the patients need heart surgery and some are treated using delicate and less invasive procedures. Driscoll Children’s Heart Center performs more than 200 cardiac catheterizations and over 220 heart surgeries each year.

If unrecognized, congenital heart defects can slow a baby’s growth and development, according to Roozbeh Taeed, MD, medical director of cardiology for Driscoll Children’s Heart Center. In severe cases, it can lead to injury of the heart muscle or lungs.

Congenital heart disease is due to the heart not forming properly as the fetus develops in the womb, Dr. Taeed said.

“It can be as simple as a hole in one of the walls separating the chambers of the heart, a narrowing of a valve or more severe abnormalities that would need treatment soon after birth.”

Dr. Taeed explains that some congenital heart defects such as small holes in the heart chamber walls resolve with time, closing as the child grows. In many cases, narrowing of a heart valve can be treated by catheterization – passing a balloon from one of the blood vessels of the groin up to the heart, crossing the narrowed valve, opening the balloon and “popping” the valve more open, Dr. Taeed said. More complicated heart abnormalities require surgery and teams of doctors including anesthesiologists, intensive care doctors, cardiologists and surgeons like those at Driscoll Children’s Heart Center.

Dr. Taeed advises parents to seek advice from their family physician or pediatrician if their baby is having difficulties with feedings or is not gaining weight.

“Based upon a careful examination, your healthcare provider can decide if your baby needs to be seen by a pediatric cardiologist,” he said.

What: Heart Celebration for Driscoll cardiology patients and their families
When: 2–4 p.m. Feb. 17
Where: Driscoll Children’s Medical Plaza – McAllen, 1120 E. Ridge Rd.