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Sherman hosts HEART of Diabetes Fair

Registered diagnostic cardiac sonographers Sue Daum (left) Megan Bierwirth demonstrate how an echocardiogram works. | Denise Moran ~ For Sun-Times

Registered diagnostic cardiac sonographers Sue Daum (left) and Megan Bierwirth demonstrate how an echocardiogram works. | Denise Moran ~ For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 4, 2013 6:56AM

ELGIN — The latest information on heart health and diabetes was presented on Saturday during Sherman Hospital’s HEART of Diabetes Fair at 1425 North Randall Road.

The event held free blood pressure and glucose screenings along with raffles for free heart screenings. The first 100 attendees received a Sherman Heart Rate Monitor Watch and a free cholesterol screening.

Attendees had the chance to hear presentations by Dr. Rena Mehta of Shah Medical Associates in Elgin and Dr. Vu Hoang, who will start his first day at Sherman Hospital on Monday, Feb. 4.

Hoang will be serving as the medical director of minimally invasive cardiothoracic surgery at Sherman Hospital. He will be working with Drs. J. Choh, Cynthia Steimle, and William Thatcher.

Hoang comes to Sherman Hospital from the Grand Strand Regional Medical Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Prior to joining Grand Strand, he was on staff for 12 years at Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Seattle, Washington.

“I’ve done over 2,500 open heart surgeries and 1,500 lung surgeries,” Hoang said. “In the last 15 years, there has been increased interest in providing minimally invasive surgery. There is less pain, less bleeding, a shorter stay in the hospital, and an earlier return to normal activities. We have come a long way with open heart surgery.”

Risk factors

Shah said that some of the risk factors for heart disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, and a family history of heart disease. “People with diabetes have twice the risk of heart failure as compared to healthy patients,” Shah said.

Shah recommended that people increase their physical activity, decrease their salt intake and alcohol consumption, cut down on saturated and trans fat, and consume at least 14 grams of fiber every day.

In addition to listening to talks by Hoang and Shah, attendees could visit the various booths at the fair in order to learn more about heart health and diabetes.

Registered nurse Denise Kennedy showed fair participants how defibrillators have changed over the years.

“The older defibrillators were implanted under the skin in the stomach area,” Kennedy said. “The newer defibrillators are smaller and implanted on the left side under the collarbone.”

Registered diagnostic cardiac sonographers Sue Daum, Cheryl Nelson, and Megan Bierwirth showed attendees how an echocardiogram works.

“It provides an ultrasound of the heart,” Daum said. “We look at the heart chambers and valves to see if they are functioning normally.”

The booth for Mended Hearts, a national volunteer group for adults that offers support to cardiac patients and their families, was joined this year by Mended Little Hearts of Chicago that serves families and caregivers of children affected by congenital heart defects and heart disease.

Mended Little Hearts was recently founded by Kara Aalfs, manager of outpatient cardiovascular services at Sherman Hospital, and Annette Aiardo. Aalf’s son, Jake, and Aiardo’s granddaughter, Maya, were both born with congenital heart defects. The next two meetings of Mended Little Hearts at Sherman Hospital are slated for 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 7, and Thursday, April 11.

CHD is the number one birth defect in the United States. In 2009, the hospital costs for children with CHD were nearly $1.5 billion. Mended Little Hearts provides care bags to let families know they are not alone.

For donations of new items such as non-perishable snacks, travel-sized toiletries, playing cards, small board games, coloring books, crayons, blankets, angel figurines and teddy bears, contact

People who wish to support Mended Little Hearts can dine at Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar in South Elgin on Monday, Feb. 11, and Colonial Café & Ice Cream in Elgin on Tuesday, Feb. 26. A percentage of proceeds at the restaurants on those days will be donated to Mended Little Hearts.

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