Event to Benefit the National Marfan Foundation
Contact Eileen Masciale
Consulting Director of Communications
Gregorio Sicard, MD, Washington University School of Medicine,
to be Honored at Heartworks St. Louis Gala, March 6
Event to Benefit the National Marfan Foundation
PORT WASHINGTON, NY, January 21, 2010 – Gregorio Sicard, MD, Eugene M. Bricker Professor of Surgery and Professor of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Executive Vice Chairman of the Department of Surgery and Chief of the Vascular Surgery Section at Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, is receiving the 2010 Hero with a Heart Award from the National Marfan Foundation (NMF) at Heartworks St. Louis, on March 6. Dr. Sicard is a world-renowned expert in vascular surgery and has pioneered many techniques performed on the aorta and peripheral arteries, procedures that may be lifesaving for those with Marfan syndrome and other genetically-triggered diseases involving blood vessels. Proceeds from the event will benefit the education, support and research programs of the National Marfan Foundation.
Approximately 200,000 people in the U.S. have Marfan syndrome or a related connective tissue disorder. Experts say that about half of those affected do not know they have the potentially life-threatening condition and, without a diagnosis and treatment, are at risk of a sudden early death.
Heartworks St. Louis is celebrating its second year, after raising more than $150,000 in 2009. More than 200 people attended last year’s event, including leading St. Louis clinicians and researchers on Marfan syndrome and members of the St. Louis Chapter of the National Marfan Foundation.
Heartworks St. Louis will be held at the Starlight Ballroom at the Chase Park Plaza. A cocktail reception will commence at 7 pm, with dinner and the awards ceremony at 8 pm. Entertainment will be provided by the Ralph Butler Band.
Alan Braverman, MD, Professor of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, and his wife, Rebecca, are hosts for the evening again this year. Dr. Braverman, who is the Director of the Marfan Syndrome Clinic at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes Jewish Hospital, lost his father to Marfan syndrome and has a brother and nephew who are affected with the condition. A valued advisor to the NMF, he has served on its Professional Advisory Board since 1999.
“Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital have a wealth of clinicians and researchers who have contributed much to the care of people with Marfan syndrome and related disorders,” said Carolyn Levering, NMF President and CEO. “Dr. Sicard truly gives new life to the many people with vascular disease, including Marfan syndrome, who come here for their complex aortic surgery. We are proud to honor him at this year’s Heartworks St. Louis for his surgical expertise and dedication to this patient community.”
Dr. Sicard has been the Program Director of the Vascular Surgery Fellowship program at Washington University School of Medicine since its inception in 1986. He joined the faculty at WUSM as an Assistant Professor in 1978. A member of numerous national medical and academic societies, Dr. Sicard is regularly named as one of America’s Top Doctors. He has received a Lifetime Achievement award from Barnes-Jewish Hospital and from the Society of Spanish Speaking Vascular Surgeons.
Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital: Leader in Marfan Syndrome Care and Research
Marfan syndrome is a connective tissue disorder that affects the heart, blood vessels, eyes, bones, joints and lungs. It is often, but not always, characterized by a tall stature and disproportionately long legs and arms. Other skeletal manifestations are curvature of the spine, a protruding or indented chest and loose joints. The most serious problem associated with Marfan syndrome is its effect on the aorta, the main artery carrying blood away from the heart.
The aorta is prone to progressive enlargement, which can lead to tears in the aortic wall that require surgery. If aortic enlargement and tears are left undetected, the aorta may rupture, leading to sudden death.
The life expectancy for people with Marfan syndrome who are diagnosed and treated is now in the 70's due to advances in cardiovascular surgery, increased options in medical therapy and better diagnosis. Without a proper diagnosis and medical management, they are at risk of aortic dissection and sudden death.
The Marfan Syndrome Clinic at Washington University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital is one of the leading Marfan syndrome clinics in the country, providing comprehensive and coordinated care for patients in all disciplines related to Marfan syndrome, most notable cardiology, orthopedics, ophthalmology and genetics. Specialists are also available to provide care in other body systems when needed.
Washington University School of Medicine is among 28 institutions in the U.S., Canada and abroad that are participating in a federally-funded clinical trial on a potentially new treatment for the aorta in people with Marfan syndrome. The researchers are comparing losartan, an already FDA-approved medication, and atenolol, a beta blocker that is the current gold standard treatment for Marfan syndrome. A study published in Science in April 2006 showed that losartan prevented and even reversed aortic enlargement in mice with Marfan syndrome. The clinical trial is testing the two drugs in 604 patients between the ages of six months and 25 years. Dr. Angela Sharkey of St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Dr. Braverman are the investigators leading the study in St. Louis.
The National Marfan Foundation
The National Marfan Foundation is a non-profit voluntary health organization dedicated to saving lives and improving the quality of life of individuals and families affected by the Marfan syndrome and related disorders by:
• Educating affected individuals, family members and the health care community about the Marfan syndrome.
• Advocating for and funding clinical and molecular research into the early detection and treatment of Marfan syndrome.
• Providing a network of local and special-interest support groups to help affected people and their families share experiences.
For more information on the Marfan syndrome, contact the NMF at 800-8-MARFAN or visit the NMF’s web site at www.marfan.org.
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