Catholic Health and the American Heart Association empower families to live heart-healthy while raising awareness of congenital heart defect.

The Buffalo Niagara American Heart Association and Catholic Health are teaming up to raise awareness about family heart health and congenital heart defects, the No. 1 birth defect. During Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week, February 7-14, the two groups will host an interview with Dr. Donald Pickhardt, lll, Chair of Pediatrics at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, who will discuss diagnosing and treating congenital heart disease. Teddy bears with little red knit caps will be given to new parents and their newborns at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, Sisters of Charity Hospital, and Mount St. Mary’s Hospital, during Heart Month, along with important heart heath information that serves as a reminder that heart disease affects more Americans than any other condition, and congenital heart disease is the most common type of birth defect.

Following the interview, the media is invited to visit the hospital’s Mother-Baby Unit where the bears will be distributed to new moms and dads for their special little bundle of joy.

WHERE: Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, third floor

WHEN: Friday, February 7, Wear Red Day – 10:30 a.m.

(This event follows Erie County Wear Red Day Proclamation at 10 am, Mercy Hospital)

WHY: Congenital heart defects (CHD’s) are structural problems with the heart present at birth. They result when a mishap occurs during heart development soon after conception and often before the mother is aware that she is pregnant. Defects range in severity from simple problems, such as “holes” between chambers of the heart, to very severe malformations, such as complete absence of one or more chambers or valves. According to the American Heart Association, it’s possible to fix most congenital heart defects and there are an estimated 2 million CHD survivors in the United States.

CHD Facts:

*CHDs are the most common birth defects. CHDs occur in almost 1% of births.

*Nearly 40,000 infants in the U.S. are born each year with CHDs.

Courtesy of CBS News 58

*Thanks to improvements in survival made possible through the research and science efforts of the American Heart Association, the number of adults living with CHDs is increasing. It is now believed that the number of adults living with CHDs is at least equal to, if not greater than, the number of children living with CHDs.

*The American Heart Association has long been committed to helping the tiniest and most vulnerable of hearts. The You’re the Cure advocacy efforts have championed Pulse-Oximetry Screening in states nationwide. Additionally, we continue to be a leading source of CHD research funding. In fact, the Association invested over $65 million, in CHD research from 2012-2015.

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